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David Turton, Julia Gonzlez

Cultural Identities and


Ethnic Minorities in Europe

HumanitarianNet
Thematic Network on Humanitarian
Development Studies

Cultural Identities
and Ethnic Minorities
in Europe

Cultural Identities
and Ethnic Minorities
in Europe
David Turton
University of Oxford

Julia Gonzlez Ferreras


University of Deusto

1999
Universidad de Deusto
Bilbao

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Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
David Turton (University of Oxford) and Julia Gonzlez (University of
Deusto)

Europe as a mosaic of identities: some reflections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Estanislao Arroyabe (University of Innsbruck)

23

Minorities, policies and strategies in Europe: a Belgian (Flemish) view. . .


Paul Mahieu (University of Antwerp)

35

Relations between the state and ethnic minorities in Norway. . . . . . . . . .


Ada Engebrigtsen (University of Oslo)

43

Minorities, policies and strategies in Europe: Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Wolfgang Bosswick (University of Bamberg)

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From conflict to harmony: the Greek case. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Maria Dikaiou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)

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Padania resurrected or, how to invent an ethnic identity in a land of a


thousand bell towers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Enzo Pace (University of Padua)
Federal Balkania, Kosovo Republika or Balkan meltdown?. . . . . . . .
Robert Hudson (University of Derby)

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71

The Northern Ireland case: intercommunal talks and the re-negotiation


of identity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Stephen Ryan (University of Ulster)

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Negotiating identities in a diasporic context: the Pakistani population of


Bradford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Charles Husband (University of Bradford)

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Introduction
David Turton and Julia Gonzlez

The essays which make up this book were written for a conference
on Cultural Identities and Ethnic Minorities, held at the University of
Deusto, Bilbao, in March 1998. The conference, which was organised by
Julia Gonzlez, brought together representatives of member Universities
of the European Thematic Network on Humanitarian and Development
Studies, within the sub-theme on Migration, Multiculturalism and
Ethnic Conflict.
In the different projects of this Thematic Network, there is an
underlying note which is both intended and spontaneously recorded
after its activities. We refer to the European dimension. The idea of
sharing approaches and perspectives into the analysis on a number of
working themes (minorities in European being one of them) was already
agreed at the first group meeting. It is interesting to notice that it was
at the end of this European conference that the group decided to
incorporate into their project of European Ph. D. on Migration,
Multiculturality and Ethnic Conflict, two ten days seminars where the
doctoral students could be exposed to the enriching variety of the
perspectives and traditions which make up Europe. The initial intention
is, therefore, to create common language and shared points of reference
where variety could be read and further understood.
In preparing the papers for publication we were faced with the
familiar problem of how to provide a coherent overall structure for a
set of papers that had been written to fairly broad terms of reference,
from different disciplinary perspectives and on a highly complex and
much debated issue. Of the fourteen papers that were presented at the
conference, two could not be included for reasons beyond our control
and we reluctantly decided not to include a further three papers in order
to give the collection an exclusively European focus. These were the
papers by Raymond Bucko (University of Le Moyne, USA and University

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

of Deusto, Bilbao) on the Latuka sweat lodges; by Ladislas Bizimana


(University of Deusto) on the crisis in the Great Lakes region of Central
Africa; and by David Turton (University of Oxford) on the role of oral
history in the making of group identity among the Mursi of southwestern
Ethiopia.
The remaining nine papers can be categorised most obviously
according to their geographical coverage, which ranges from Europe as a
whole (Arroyabe), to particular European states (Mahieu, Engebrigtsen,
Bosswick and Dikaiou) and to localities or regions within states (Pace,
Hudson, Ryan and Husband). Although we have used this categorisation
to determine the sequence of chapters, it masks (or, at least, is not
entirely congruent with) another distinction which is analytically more
interesting because it focuses attention on the central role of the state in
the accommodation of cultural and ethnic diversity. This is a distinction
between two contrasting ways in which such diversity is manifested in
European states.
First, there are the culturally and ethnically distinct communities,
spatially dispersed and yet concentrated within specific inner-city areas,
which have resulted from post-World War II movements of economic
migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and which represent a challenge
to traditional notions of nation building through the increasing
homogenisation of a culturally diverse population. Such immigrant
minorities take different forms depending on the historical, political
and economic circumstances which led to their creation. Thus Mahieu
and Bosswick describe the faltering steps being taken in Belgium and
Germany respectively to integrate ethnic minorities which have
resulted from the state sponsored immigration of supposedly temporary
guest workers in the 1950s and 60s. The members of these
minorities can no longer be seen, realistically, as migrants, and yet
they enjoy less than full citizenship rights. Immigration into Britain from
its former colonies, on the other hand, has resulted in the formation of
localised ethnic minorities, such as the Pakistani community in Bradford
described by Husband, the members of which continue to occupy, de
facto, a socially and economically marginalised position within British
society, even though they are, de jure, full British citizens. A different,
and more recent, source of cultural diversity and potential inter-group
conflict in Europe has been the migration of ethnic Germans,
Russians and Greeks from the Soviet Republics and Eastern Europe
towards the areas of their designated origin. In the case of Greece,
as described by Dikaiou, this has resulted in the repatriation of over
200,000 people of Greek origin from the former Soviet Union and
Albania.

INTRODUCTION

11

Second, there are the increasingly salient internal, localised and


territorialised identities, based on long-standing and/or deliberately
constructed ethnic and cultural distinctions, which threaten, at least
potentially, the constitutional structure and external boundaries of
existing nation states. Four of the chapters deal with cases which come
within this category. Hudson and Ryan describe, respectively, the
contrasting cases of Kosovo (where ethnic Albanians make up the large
majority in a province which is considered the heartland of Serbia) and
Northern Ireland (where each side in the conflict can see itself as a
threatened minority, depending on whether the reference population is
that of the province itself or of the island of Ireland). Pace describes the
emergence of the Northern League as a secessionist force in Italian
politics, filling the vacuum left by the demise of the Christian Democrat
and Socialist parties and basing its call for an independent Padania
on the invention of an ethnic identity, supposedly Celtic in origin, for
all the people of the Po valley. Engebrigtsen's chapter on ethnic minorities
in Norway provides us with an example of a nation state having to
come to terms with its inability to impose cultural uniformity and
homogeneity on a minority population, the Saami, whose territory it
had taken over. The attempt to Norwegianise the Saami appears to
have led to a growth of Saami ethnic consciousness and to their eventual
designation as a national indigenous minority with, at least in
principle, rights to their own territory and natural resources.
The distinction between what we might call, for want of better
terminology, immigrant minorities and indigenous minorities is
analytically interesting, therefore, because it directs attention to the
central importance of the nation state in any consideration of cultural
diversity in Europe but the nation state in two contrasting guises: on
the one hand as the solution and on the other hand as the
problem. From the point of view of immigrant minorities, the nation
state is the solution, in the sense that they look to it (and have
nowhere else to look) to enable them both to preserve their distinctive
cultural identity and to overcome the socially and economically marginal
position they generally occupy in relation to the labour market, access
to health, education and other public services and to local and national
political institutions. From the point of view of indigenous minorities,
the state is the problem, in the sense that they see it, or at least they
see it's present organisation and structure, as an obstacle rather than
as a means to their economic and political advancement and cultural
survival. They therefore seek some degree of decentralisation of state
power, so as to gain greater control over what they regard as their own
affairs, or to set up their own state, or to join a neighbouring state

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

with the population of which they share an ethnic or cultural identity.


This dual relationship of the state to the accommodation of cultural
diversity is another version of the central paradox of the contemporary
nation state: it has become too small to control the economic forces
that determine the livelihoods and well-being of its citizens and yet too
large to give satisfactory expression to their increasingly localised
identities.
The implications of this paradox for the future of a united and yet
culturally plural European political system is the underlying theme of
Arroyabe's chapter. His fundamentally optimistic account rests on two
main propositions: first, that the process of integration upon which
Europe has been embarked since the setting up of the Common Coal
and Steel Authority originated not in some lofty European spirit but
in the realisation that economic and technological changes had
rendered the traditional European nation states obsolete as a basis for
progress; and second, that no single European state will in future be
able to dominate the rest. In other words, we might say that present
efforts to forge a united Europe are likely to succeed where others have
failed because they are based not on the rhetoric of visionaries (though
there has, of course, been a certain amount of this) but on a coolheaded grasp of economic realities that have rendered the nation state
too small for its own good. This weakening of the nation state's ability
to influence the international market forces that affect the economic
well-being of its own citizens has, in turn, given what Arroyabe calls
elbow room to ethnic and cultural minorities. He has in mind here
the fact that no single European country has a significant advantage
over the others in terms of territorial extent or population size. But it
may be more important to note that all states, and not just European
ones, have lost out to the globalising forces of market exchange and
international investment. The history of European integration thus gives
us a perfect example of what has been neatly labelled glocalisation:
the creation of a space larger than that of the traditional nationstate for economic activity and exchange and the parallel emergence of
places, smaller than the state, as foci of group identity and belonging.
(It is an interesting paradox that Britain, the European state which led
the way in embracing the consequences of economic liberalisation and
the globalisation of capital, and in reducing its citizens dependence on
state institutions, should have been the one to show the greatest
degree of anxiety about the loss of sovereignty that European unity
inevitably entails.)
As Mahieu points out for Belgium, educational policy has been the
chief means by which European states have attempted to improve the

INTRODUCTION

13

disadvantaged status of immigrant minorities, especially in relation to


access to the labour market. During the 1960s, over a period of four
years, the Belgian Ministry of Labour and Employment issued 125,000
work permits to migrants from Turkey and Morocco but these were, of
course, the first victims of the economic down-turn that began in the
mid-1970s. The average unemployment rate for migrants in Belgium
is now almost twice (and in some areas four times) that of the majority
population. It was only in the 1980s that the first attempts were made
to introduce changes into the school system that would improve the
educational opportunities of minority groups. The success of these
attempts has, at best, been mixed. Mahieu stresses the reactive and ad
hoc nature of educational policy- making for migrants in Belgium. It
has been based on piecemeal attempts to respond to economic
circumstances and to the influence of action groups, social movements
and public demonstrations rather than on a rational and comprehensive
assessment of needs and opportunities. Although this reads like a
familiar story of too little too late, there are at least two grounds for
optimism in Mahieu's chapter. First, and as he himself points out,
educational policy reflects prevailing scientific theories about the
reasons for the disadvantaged status of immigrant minorities. It is to be
hoped, therefore, that the findings he reports from his own research on
the workings of the 1993 non-discrimination charter will have some
impact on future policy. The second cause for optimism lies in one of
these findings, namely that the more open and widely reported the
ideological debate about such issues as freedom of school choice
and of religious expression, the more likely it is that policies designed to
improve the educational opportunities of minority groups will be
successfully implemented.
The flow of labour migrants into Belgium during the boom years
of the 1950s and 1960s pales into insignificance when compared to
Germany. Bosswick tell us that, Between 1952 and 1995, about 28
million people immigrated into Germany and 19.5 emigrated, resulting
in a net immigration of 8.3 million. Despite a programme launched in
1983 to encourage and support financially the repatriation of guest
workers, the population of former guest workers has become more or
less stable although it is interesting to note that, according to
Bosswick, it is still open to question whether the migrant communities
will persist as stable minorities. In 1996 the foreign population of
Germany amounted to 7.3 million, around a half of whom had either
been born in Germany or had been resident there for more than ten
years. In 1994, a third of all births in the country took place in a family
with at least one foreign parent. The influx of ethnic Germans from

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

the former Soviet Union and of asylum seekers, which peaked in the
early 1990s at around 400,000 per year, coincided with increased levels
of xenophobic violence, since when there has been a sharp decrease in
the annual figures for both asylum seekers and ethnic Germans.
Apart from a policy of restriction on further immigration and
encouragement to those migrants already resident to return to their
countries of origin, it seems that there is a lack of political will in
Germany to tackle what Bosswick sees as the key issue: the need for
A sound policy targeted at the integration of former migrants and
their children into German society. In the absence of such a policy,
there are all the makings here of a permanent underclass. Apart from
the familiar story of economic marginalisation (the average unemployment
rate for the foreign population of Germany, as of Belgium, is
approximately twice that of the majority population) there is the
additional twist that German citizenship has traditionally been based
on the ethnic concept of jus sanguinis. For this reason, while ethnic
Germans from Eastern and Central Europe find it relatively easy to
obtain German citizenship, first and second generation immigrants
from other countries can remain excluded, indefinitely, from voting in
local as well as national elections.
Although change in the German nationality law is now a subject of
national debate, Bosswick was not, at the time of writing, optimistic
that early progress would be made in this direction because of the
approaching general election (September 1998). Here we see illustrated
one of the key reasons for ambivalence, ambiguity and short-termism
in public policy towards immigrant minorities in Europe. On the one
hand there is a growing consciousness, as Bosswick reports for Germany,
of the need to integrate these minorities (in the sense of providing for
their equal access to employment, housing and other state services,
and to national and local political institutions) in order to avoid
potential ethnic and racial violence. On the other hand, it is all to easy
and tempting for democratically elected governments to divert the
growing anxiety of the majority population about it's own collective
identity and individual security from the real causes of this anxiety
towards immigrant minorities and bogus asylum seekers. These real
causes especially the increasingly de-regulated market forces and
globalised movement of capital are both invisible to the electorate
and beyond the control of individual governments. While they cannot,
therefore, promise security from the free play of these forces,
governments can turn the consequent anxiety of their citizens to
electoral advantage by demonstrating their willingness and determination
to get tough with the all too visible stranger next door. Since the

INTRODUCTION

15

main preoccupation of any government must be to maintain itself in


power, the depressing truth is that we cannot rely on democratically
elected governments to adopt the kind of policies towards immigrant
minorities that, in the long term, common sense demands, unless they
can see these policies as working towards their short term electoral
advantage.
In contrast to Belgium and Germany, Greece (like Italy) has only
recently begun to see itself as a country of significant immigration.
Dikaiou tells us that, since 1989, over 200,000 people of Greek origin
have migrated to mainland Greece from the Soviet Republics of
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia and from Albania, and that
altogether 13,000 foreign migrants are entering the country each year.
These include an annual figure of around 3,500 refugees, that is,
people with no claim to Greek origin who are therefore considered by
the Government to be in transit to a third country and who have to
survive without formal legal status or government assistance. They
include Kurds, Tamils, Poles, Lebanese and people from various African
countries. This relatively sudden influx of foreigners has led to what
Dikaiou describes as a dramatic change in intergroup relations', with
traditional values of hospitality towards the stranger being replaced by
suspicion, doubt, fear and hostility. She is not optimistic that this
situation will be managed any better in Greece than it has been in the
countries of Northern Europe indeed she sees Greece imitating
other European countries with a long tradition of immigration. But
she makes an important point that should serve to encourage those
who are not ready to accept that the preservation of social harmony in
Europe depends on an ever more effective policing of the common
European frontier. She points out that the problem we face is not how
to eradicate conflict, which is a necessary and positive characteristic of
human social life, but how to manage it constructively. It is not, in
other words, cultural diversity per se which leads to violent and
destructive forms of conflict but the way people perceive it and the
way their perceptions are manipulated by political leaders and party
spin doctors.
This is an important point, not only because it makes the task
ahead challenging rather than impossible, but also because it reminds
us that cultural diversity has been an important very likely a
necessary factor behind the amazing cultural, economic and political
achievements of European civilisation, making Europe, as Arroyabe
puts it, The continent which revolutionised the world and created
the first universal culture worth the name. If this is so, then the
successful accommodation and management of cultural and ethnic

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diversity within European states is necessary, not just to avoid the


destructive consequences of ethnic and racial violence in the short
term, but also to hold out some hope that European civilisation will be
as creative and revolutionary over the next millennium as it has been
over the last. The policy of fortress Europe, in other words, could be
the chief potential obstacle to the future economic, political and
cultural strength of a united Europe.
Britain's experience of postwar immigration contrasts with that of
other European states in at least two ways. First, since the majority of
immigrants came from former colonial or Commonwealth countries
they were, under the 1948 Nationality Act, already full British citizens
and had the right to settle in Britain without being subject to
immigration controls. Second, the subject of immigration in Britain has
always been seen as an issue of race relations and, while all political
parties have paid lip-service to the need to eliminate racial prejudice and
discrimination, this has been translated into policy as a commitment to
equal rights and equality of opportunity, rather than to positive
programmes to benefit immigrant minorities and encourage cultural
difference. Husband's chapter on the Pakistani community of Bradford
gives us some insight into the gap this has created for many immigrant
communities in Britain between, on the one hand, the reality of their
everyday experience of racial discrimination and economic disadvantage
and, on the other, their formal enjoyment of full British citizenship
rights. His main concern, however, is to trace the ways in which the
members of this community, especially its younger members, are
engaged in a continual construction and reconstruction of their collective
and individual identities, in response to pressures, constraints and
opportunities coming from within their own community and from the
wider British society.
It is particularly interesting, in this connection, to note what
Husband has to say about the relationship between identity and religious
affiliation. Firstly, the meaning of an Islamic religious affiliation differs
significantly according to generation and gender. Young men are
tending to reproduce a Patriarchal Islamic ethos, with a strong
melding of Northern male machismo, while young women are using
textual accounts of Islam to challenge as non-Islamic the oral and
culturally specific interpretations which both older and younger men
use in an attempt to limit their freedoms. Secondly, there is a
generational difference between those who describe themselves as
strongly and weakly religious, older members of the community being
in general more religious than younger members, regardless of gender.
This much is predictable, but what is interesting is that young people of

INTRODUCTION

17

both sexes (but especially young men) were more likely than their
elders to identify themselves as Muslims rather than as Pakistani's. In
other words, religious affiliation is being used here to effect a
transformation in ethnic identity, along generational lines, rather than
to express strength of religious commitment. As Husband puts it, the.
data indicate significant differences in the understanding of Islam and
its incorporation into a Muslim identity along gender and generational
lines'. This analysis is a valuable reminder of two important characteristics
of minority identities which are easily, and therefore frequently,
overlooked: they are not fixed and monolithic, but dynamic, situational
and always in process of construction; and they are not homogeneous
but internally differentiated according to such variables as age, gender
and socio-economic position. Failure to bear these points in mind when
designing policies to assist the integration of immigrant minorities is
likely to mean that those policies will be, at best, ineffective and, at
worst, counter-productive.
Still on the theme of the construction of ethnic identity, but turning
now to minority populations which see the state as the problem
rather than as the solution, Pace's chapter gives us an extreme
example of the deliberate manipulation by political leaders of historical
and other symbolic materials, literally to invent a distinctive ethnic
identity for a territorially based population. The story Pace tells of the
rise of the Northern League as a new political force in Italy in the late
1980s and of its evolution, after the fall of communism, into a
secessionist movement, contains most of the distinguishing features of
the ethno-nationalist political project that materialised at approximately
the same time in the former Yugoslavia. First, and most obviously, there
is the same linkage of ethnicity with the demand for the separate
territorial existence of the ethnic nation; second, there is the same
reliance on a charismatic leader; third, there is the assertion (in this case
particularly problematic) of a common linguistic and religious identity;
fourth, there is the same use of visual symbols, especially associated
with territory and land; fifth, there is the same deliberate and skilful
reconstruction of a supposedly collective past to give substance to the
assertion of a common cultural identity; and seventh, there is the same
portrayal of this identity as threatened by the oppression of a long
standing and equally constructed ethnic enemy in this case the
economically backward south, represented by the corrupt central
government in Rome.
Two points are of particular interest for us in this account. The first
of these is the double-edged relationship between the secessionist
project of the League and Italy's membership of the European Union.

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On the one hand, the political structure of the EU provided the wouldbe independent Padania with an attractive alternative centre to
Rome. The kind of independence being envisaged, therefore, was
not that of the traditional European state, jealously guarding its
status as a totally sovereign entity, but one which was predicated on
the existence of a politically united Europe which was seen as providing
a political and economic space within which an independent Padania
could flourish. In breaking away from the centralised Italian state, then,
Padania would be putting itself under the umbrella of a decentralised,
or federal European state. On the other hand, it's ability to make this
transition was greatly undermined by the success of the Italian
government in taking Italy into the European Monetary Union. Had
Italy not been able to satisfy the Maastricht criteria, the League would
have been able to shout from the rooftops that the economically
backward south had stopped the modern, industrialised, hard working
north from soaring independently into Europe. There may be a lesson
here for right-wing politicians in Britain, who see the creation of
separate political assemblies for Scotland and Wales as leading to the
ultimate break up of the United Kingdom and yet also worry about the
loss of sovereignty entailed in Britain's membership of the EU and, in
particular, in its adoption of a common European currency.
The second point of particular interest in Pace's chapter relates to
the suggestion we made earlier that the policy of fortress Europe
may be a hindrance rather than a help to the future economic growth
and cultural vitality of Europe. At the end of his chapter, Pace notes the
important contribution made by immigration (and therefore by cultural
diversity) to the creation of the economic base upon which the political
programme of the League was built. He is not thinking here of internal
migration, from the south to the north of Italy, which must have been
important to the economy of the north for many years, but of Italy's
recent change from being a country of emigration to one of immigration,
without which the economic growth of many areas in the north
would not have taken place.
The case of Padania is certainly an extreme example of the part
played by what Ernesto Renan called fabrication historique in the
creation of a national consciousness. It is clear, however, that the
leaders of the Northern League were basing their fabrication on
certain historical facts, albeit highly selective ones. We should
perhaps be thinking here of a continuum, lying between two ideal
types which are the complete antithesis of each other and which are
never realised in practice. One of these is a completely invented ethnic
identity, which bears no relationship at all to objective historical

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19

circumstances, and the other a completely objective one. All ethnic


identities have some historical basis, in other words, but none are
entirely historical. If the case of Padania lies towards the un-historical
end of the continuum, then the case of the Saami, described by
Engebrigtsen in her chapter on Norway, lies towards the historical end.
The Saami have their own language and are found not only in
Norway, where they are estimated to number about 30,000, but also in
Sweden, Finland and Russia. They come into the category of an
indigenous people, meaning that they inhabit, or claim rights to,
territory that was taken over during the establishment of a nation state
and that they are culturally and/or linguistically distinct from the
majority population of the state. But just as Padania was not a pure
figment of the imagination of a nationalist demagogue, so the Saami
are not an aboriginal population which has survived intact from a time,
before the Norwegian state, when they enjoyed greater isolation and
autonomy. It is clear from Engebrigtsen's account that Saami identity
their current image of themselves as a distinct minority population
is a product, not a cause, of their changing relationship with the
Norwegian state.
Three facts are particularly significant here. First, the Saami are not
a homogeneous population but comprise groups that differ according
to dialect, culture and traditional occupation; second, Saami ethnic
consciousness rose steadily as the Norwegian state attempted, from
the end of the First World War, to incorporate them by means of a
harsh policy of Norwegianisation; and third, the turning point in
the struggle of the Saami for recognition as a distinct minority people
came with the construction of a hydro-electric dam in Saami traditional
territory. This caused the Saami to link up with the World Council of
Indigenous Peoples and to defend their rights and promote their
cultural distinctiveness at a trans-national rather than simply at a
national level. The basis of the Saami challenge to the central authority
of the Norwegian state has been their successful claim to territory: they
have fought the state, as it were, on its own ground and have
succeeded in denting it's territorial hegemony. But they probably could
not have done this without taking their fight outside the borders of the
state, and joining forces with a transnational social movement.
What this case illustrates yet again is that cultural diversity is
generated by the very processes of state incorporation and globalised
communication technologies that appear, on a superficial level, to
threaten it. The key to understanding this is to recognise that the Saami
of today are not the Saami of yesterday. Ethnic identities are never
static and are never created and maintained by isolation. They are the

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product of contact and of cultural interaction and are therefore in a


constant process of negotiation. The apparently very different, and
certainly more violent, cases of Kosovo and Northern Ireland illustrate
the same point.
Kosovo and Northern Ireland are at different stages in a cycle of
violence that has similar roots and several common characteristics. Both
contain a large population (in Kosovo a large majority and in Northern
Ireland a large minority) which sees itself as marginalised and
discriminated against in its own land by an alien state apparatus and
which has closer cultural ties with the population of a neighbouring
state or, in the case of Kosovo, states than it does with the
majority population of its own. Both therefore illustrate the contradictions
implicit in the doctrine of self-determination as the international norm
of nation-building. In Northern Ireland, those seeking secession and
union with the Irish Republic are in the minority, while in Kosovo,
although the large majority are ethnic Albanians, the territory they
occupy is seen as the cradle of the Serbian nation. Partition, one of
the possible scenario's listed by Hudson as a solution for Kosovo, was
tried in the 1920s in Ireland and solved nothing: indeed it was
disagreement about the legitimacy of the partition that led to the
violence of the last twenty years. While in Northern Ireland there
appears to be a general recognition that violence has run its course, in
Kosovo this stage seems very far away. In Northern Ireland the outline
of a broadly acceptable political agreement is on the table and yet
there has not been a rush to agreement. According to Ryan, the reason
for the haltingly slow progress being made in the intercommunal talks
is that they are only superficially about the negotiation of a constitutional
settlement. More fundamentally, they are about the re-negotiation
of communal identities.
Three interrelated conclusions may be drawn from the cases of
cultural diversity and ethnic identity presented in this book. First, the
goal of a politically, ethnically and culturally homogeneous nation state
is a mirage, in Europe as much as in the new nations of the postcolonial world. This is not because primordial ethnic differences have
proved too stubborn to be overcome and obliterated, even by the
powerful centralising forces of modernity, but because these very
forces generate and promote diversity, even as they do their work of
centralisation. Second, conflict in general and identity conflict in
particular, should be seen as a normal, not a pathological condition of
human society. And third, the problem we face, in Europe as elsewhere,
is not how to eliminate ethnic conflict but how to accommodate it so
that it does not erupt into the vicious, dehumanising and incom-

INTRODUCTION

21

prehensible forms of violence that we have witnessed in Northern


Ireland and Kosovo. It is fitting that we should end this introduction
with the salutary reminder that we do not have to look beyond the
borders of Europe to find some of the worst excesses of intercommunal
violence anywhere in the world.

Europe as a mosaic of identitites: some reflections


Estanislao Arroyabe

1. The challenge of the Other


A few years ago, one of my colleagues, a linguist, drew my
attention to the following fact: biologically speaking, we all have the
same mouth, and the differences existing between individual mouths
are (except in anomalous or pathological cases) irrelevant. And yet,
when people learn their mother tongue as infants, their mouths
become accustomed to forming and emitting its sounds, so that they
will have difficulty in reproducing the sounds of another language
adequately in later life. People then speak of foreign accents. The
human mouth may look the same in an English or French anatomy
textbook, but the native French speaker will rarely do justice to the
phonetic features of English, or, of course, the other way round. And
so countless jokes will be made in France about lincroyable accent
of the English, while the latter will consider with almost traditional
amusement the antics of the French when they attempt what they
take to be English.
Physiologically then, the starting point is the same for all, and it
could be termed neutral, insofar as it can assume very diverse
phonetic characterisations. Now, once an individual is socialised once
the mother tongue and its sound profile have been acquired it is
impossible for that individual to approach a second language from
phonetic scratch, as if the second were a first language or as if the first
did not exist. Although there are no physical obstacles, we approach
the second language from the first, with well known consequences: we
thoroughly mispronounce and disfigure the former, although let it be
stressed again our vocal organs are not phonetically prejudiced.
Rudolf Steiner spoke French, German and English so genuinely well,
that people thought his first language was the one he happened to be

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

speaking. But such cases are so infrequent as to be the exceptions


confirming the rule.
Foreign accents enable us to appreciate very graphically, one
might say the tremendous weight and paramount significance of
socialisation, and the depth of the imprint of the group on each
individual. This stamp, furthermore, is crucially important when
meeting persons belonging to other groups, because, obviously, the
more characteristic our own profile, the more difficult it will be to
attune it to others. Pronunciation and accent are a plain yet stubborn
instance of this fact. Generically speaking, values would be another,
broader and much more important instance, because differences in
values may translate into serious difficulties when attempting to
communicate with people who do not share one's own. Let me refer
to two of the most important of these difficulties.
The first contains in itself and goes beyond the phonetic one; it
could be called the hermeneutic difficulty. A typical, mainstream
Frenchman will react as such, when confronted with just as typical an
Englishman; the former will receive the latter with good French manners,
and will listen or try to respond from his personal co-ordinates, that is
from a cast of mind which, if French, may be very different from an
English one. After all, what else could our Frenchman do? It is
unavoidable that when we approach the person and the world of the
Other, we do it having as tools our own person and world. This is the
reason why, when learning English, the French student pronounces it in
the French way: that is, he or she forces English pronunciation into a
mould into which English hardly fits. In order not to do so, in order to
respect English phonetics, the French student will have to learn to
formulate sounds which may be strange or plainly difficult. He will have
to use his mouth in odd, unaccustomed ways, clumsily at first and,
with time and practice, perhaps with increasing success. This whole
process will succeed only if the mouth of the French student gains a
flexibility it did not originally possess. But such an acquisition is
achieved only through repetitive, persistent effort, and apart from
being neither easy nor pleasant, the results are often enough only
modest.
This approach to the Other (and to the Others world) is even more
complicated when the matter at hand consists in ways of thinking or
living. Word-play and punning exist in both England and France, but
south of the Channel they play a more important role than north of it.
There exists a French as well as an English humour, but they are not
mutually exportable. But then, if getting the point of a foreigners
humour is not exactly easy, the difficulties will increase formidably with

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25

increasingly complex issues like a different religion or political opinion;


the greater the difference between existing positions, the more hazardous
communication becomes. The effort necessary to understand a very
different frame of mind can be literally painful, as ideas, values and
notions, have their roots in experiences which can be wildly different
from person to person or from group to group. Understanding the
Other, therefore, means reconstructing his world. But this requires a
laborious revision, and perhaps extension, of one's own horizon. All
this means a lot of hard and unpleasant as it may be indispensable
work, if we really are to grasp the Other and his or her views. If learning
to pronounce vowels and consonants which do not exist in ones own
language is wearisome, what is to be said of the difficulties arising
when the heterosexual faces the homosexual, the diehard conservative
the rabid liberal, and the violent the nonviolent? Just to understand the
world of the Other frequently requires a serious effort; judging its
relative goodness, compared to our own, requires an even greater
effort because, in order to attempt this, it is necessary to find a higher,
more objective viewpoint. One often hears that communication demands
the growth and development of the communicators. But it tends to be
forgotten that this amounts to what the Germans aptly call jumping
beyond ones shadow.
Communication being so often costly and difficult, the meeting
with the Other resembles a crossroads at which very different directions
can be taken. Because of his or her sheer otherness, the Other can be a
fascinating mystery, eloquently showing us what we are missing, and
thus be a liberating influence. Few things in life are as refreshing as
meeting people who, simply by being as they are, renew and restructure
our own personality. Accordingly, we often seek well-intentioned people
who can see our situation, but from their, not from our, perspective;
we know well that the views of the Other could turn out to be decisively
positive for us. In the same vein, getting away from it all which means
getting into something else can be the best form of relaxation. Or of
education: just as going abroad, or at least somewhere else, can be the
best form of holiday, studying abroad can add much to an education;
this is why professors so often advise students to avail themselves of
the exchange programmes offered by the European Union. But of
course there is another side of the coin: very many people may enjoy a
holiday abroad, but how many leave home and migrate freely? Not so
many. The reason is obvious: be it in an accent or a mentality, foreign
things are an uphill struggle. Why? Because they are not ones own,
and one does not move or act naturally towards them. In a word, they
require effort.

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

This is why the hermeneutic difficulty carries with it another, perhaps


more decisive, one, which I would call ethical, and which causes every
relationship with the Other to be basically fragile. As long as a relationship
is smooth and does not require effort, we will not have problems with
it. But what will happen if understanding the Other requires a degree
of sacrifice on our side? It may then be that we give up trying, or do
not even attempt the task. In other words: the more rampant the
selfishness, the more endangered all sorts of relationships. Coming
back to our initial consideration, this could mean giving up learning a
foreign language, not because one tried ones best and failed, but
because one rules outright that enough is enough, that those people
have a really impossible language, or a ridiculous accent, or an abstruse
grammar; why bother about them? This is how in classical Greece the
word barbarian was coined; as a demeaning and ethnocentric designation
for all those obscure northern neighbours who did not speak as finely
and precisely as, in their own estimation, the Greeks themselves did.
Again, if we pass from accents to values or mentalities, this dangerous
slope can easily lead to categorically harsh judgements, or to give them
their proper name, prejudices (that is, judgements passed without
considering the evidence). And then, the citizens of such and such
country are seen as quintessentially dim-witted, or lazy, or perfidious,
or any other of the many insulting epithets which we Europeans have
tended to heap so generously on each other.
Because understanding the Other means doing justice to him or her
and to ourselves, and because this, aside from being difficult, can run
counter to our preferences or interests (let alone privileges), we tend to
limit our efforts. We do what we are forced to do, but not more, and
not even that if we can avoid it. Or to put it in other words: if we have
the stronger hand, if we are the majority, we just let our weight make
itself felt. Hence, for instance, the well known situation of so many
ethnic minorities, forced to learn the dominant language but without
institutional rights for their own. Or the parallel case of numerous religious
minorities and their precarious, disdainfully permitted existence.
To put pressure on minorities seems to come naturally to majorities,
and this underlines the central difficulty in our relationship to the
Other: it does not lie in our ability to understand, but rather in our
willingness to respect. Because access to the Other is often laborious, it
is tempting to cut short the difficulties by simply imposing our views,
by steamrolling them into acceptance. Such a temptation will be
stronger when the difficulties increase, when the distance between us
and the Other happens to be greater than it seemed. If, furthermore, that
distance is maintained by solid but conflicting interests, communication,

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27

mutual understanding, are pure utopias; what we get is a tug-of-war, if


not a downright war.
The fragility of dialogue and the difficulty of getting close to the
Other, lies then in the ethical opacity of human beings. Let me illustrate
this by proposing a short mental experiment. Think of the number of
people that we know. Let us then ask ourselves, how many we trust
amongst those whom we know (to how many would we, for instance,
entrust our home or our savings?). Finally, let us proceed to a third
question: how many of those people do we love? And then, let us
repeat the experiment in the opposite direction: How many people
know me? How many trust me? How many love or, more modestly, like
me? The numerical difference in the answers speaks for itself and
explains why we are so cautious with each other (or, if the expression
be allowed, with each Other). This cautiousness is necessary because
we do not know from the outset about the good or bad will of those
we are dealing with, and because everybodys life is littered with
disappointments in this sense. For the same reason, others are cautious
with us, and the others we are cautious about may well be those
closest to ourselves. We might even be well advised to be especially
careful with them.
One hears much nowadays about communication and dialogue. In
my view, all the modern techniques of presentation, discussion and
persuasion, fashionable as they are (and so reminiscent of classical
Rhetoric) count for nothing if they are not animated by a sincerely
good will (the Sophists were the first technicians in communication,
but they did not achieve a better or more enduring polis). Without
good will, all these techniques become cheap tricks, marketing at its
most ephemeral. The question is, what gives human beings the good
will that leads to disinterested effort? From where or what does this
good will come? Can we recover it if we have cheated or others have
cheated us? If so, how? I take this to be the central problem of Ethics,
and therefore of communication with the Other. It may even be the
central problem in human life but, going as it does well beyond the
limits of this presentation, I can but allude to it and leave it at that. If
we acted towards the Other according to our loyal best, we might, as
Newman said, have ten thousand difficulties but no problem. The
plodding slowness of our intelligence would indeed be a difficulty, but
the real problem lies in our loyalty to the results of that intelligence, or
rather in the uprightness of that intelligence, in its loyalty to itself.
Possibly because such loyalty is not all that common, our history
which is also our history with the Other remains the baffling, painful
confusion that it is.

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2. The European mosaic


Considered as a cultural phenomenon, Europe is frequently seen as
the synthesis of two elements: Greek rationality and Christian values.
Nonetheless, ferocious wars (not only of religion) have abounded on
our continent, as well as irrational explosions as sinister as Nazism,
coming after two centuries of Enlightenment; so much, then, for self
satisfaction. The following are some personal remarks about the future
of the European mosaic.
1. European integration seems irreversible to me. There is still a long
way to go, but so much ground has already been covered that going
back is out of the question. Well and good, but one should never forget
that the European idea did not originate in a noble, farsighted reflection
that conquered people's minds, but as the only reasonable way ahead
after a series of catastrophes. Since the end of the Thirty Years War, the
political system in Europe was nothing but an unstable balance between
several powers. As soon as one of these powers tried to outdo the
others (France under Louis XIV or Napoleon, Germany after Bismarck)
the others fell upon it, and the same was the case when one power
gave signs of weakness (Spanish and Austrian wars of succession, the
partitions of Poland, the decadence of the Ottoman Empire). This led to
two world wars in our century. The continent which revolutionised the
world, which created the first universal culture worth the name, which
imperially ruled the planet, lay prostrate at the end of the Second World
War, and at the mercy of two non-European superpowers (the USA and
the Soviet Union). The choice was increasingly clear: either some form
of association or political insignificance, if not servitude. In order to
overcome the contradictions which had plagued the past, something
new had to be devised, achieving what the Greek city-states had failed
to do after the Peloponnesian War.
Furthermore, economic and technological changes had rendered
the traditional European nation states obsolete as a basis for progress.
The investment needed to remain competitive in a contemporary
environment required a level of sales (and therefore of production and
finance) impossible to obtain in small national markets; the need for a
larger market was therefore evident soon after the Second World War.
The choice was, in this case too, unequivocal: either a more important
economic space would have to be created, or the European states
would become mere appendages of more vigorous and larger economic
blocs. If things did not change, those proud states which during the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries colonised practically the whole of
the planet, risked becoming colonies themselves. This explains why the

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29

first really fruitful European initiative was the Common Coal and Steel
Authority. Since those days coal and steel have lost their role as
mainstays of industry, but the way then begun has been pursued. The
Common Market was launched, customs barriers were abolished, tax
systems harmonised, national budgets brought into line, and a common
currency and a Central European Bank are being launched under our
very eyes. And just as economic and judicial power has been devolved
to European institutions, political and military power will, I think,
follow. The modalities to be adopted are far from clear, and there will
be endless, tiresome negotiations involving a huge amount of horsetrading, but in my view, sooner or later yesterdays sovereign states are
going to become something like administrative units, deprived of quite
a few of their former attributes.
But let us not for a moment deceive ourselves: this integration
process is not due to some lofty European spirit, and not even to
humdrum common sense; it has been forced upon Europeans by
circumstances. One has only to attend to the tone and manner of that
integration to see this. It is not a marriage of love, but one of reason, in
which every single detail of the future common life is agreed upon
after detailed and exhausting negotiation. Behind European integration
one finds increasing conviction, few gestures and a staggering
amount of administration!
2. In the future Europe there will be no dominant state, nation or
group, because no country greatly surpasses the others in geographical
extent or population. Germany is seen by some as the candidate for
such a role, but taking into account only the four main West European
countries, the 80 million Germans cannot impose their political or
economic will on about 60 million French, and roughly as many Britons
and Italians. Because there will be no single dominant country, this will
exclude the all too human temptation to extend ones own ways,
language or aspirations, to the whole group. The Soviet Union disintegrated a few years ago. On paper it was a fraternal association of very
different nationalities whose very diversity was constitutionally enshrined,
and was supposed to be enriching for the whole. But...over half of the
population was Russian, just as Russian as were three quarters of the
territory and natural resources. And the whole was managed by
Russians sitting in the old, traditional capital of Russia. Given the ethical
fragility of human beings, the result was foreseeable: the big fish ate
the small fry. Latvians and Uzbeks learnt had to learn Russian, but
Russians did not care to do the same with languages of other
nationalities; not even in cases like Latvia or Kazakhstan, where Russian
migration had been massive almost to the point of tipping the ethnic

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

balance. The Russians living in Latvia did not even think of learning
Latvian, but expected quite naturally every Latvian to be bilingual;
and it was of course self-evident, that when Latvians and Russians had
any business to transact, the language used had to be Russian. And so,
steadily, Latvian had to retreat, lose relevance and make place for the
increasing russification in all walks of life. The very cultural identity of
the Latvians was being both flooded and undermined.
I do not think anything like this will happen in a future Europe. It will
be a culturally plural Europe, not because of a quantum leap in civilised
behaviour, but rather because of the continents very fragmentation. We
will have to take each other more seriously, because there will be no
other way. And we will have to organise our common life, which is not
going to be simple or easy at all. Take for instance the languages: are
all national languages to be considered as official languages in the
future Europe? When the Common Market was launched, its members
used four languages (French, German, Dutch and Italian) and had
recourse to simultaneous translation for their meetings. Brussels still
works the same way. But the official languages of the European Union
have now grown to eleven. How many will there be when Central and
Eastern European countries join, as they are already beginning to do?
Some time ago English was suggested as the working language of the
Union, but this proposal was adamantly opposed by the French, who
understood very well that a language which is not official loses practical
significance, and risks very real relegation. They kicked up such a
rumpus that two working languages were agreed upon, English and
French. But then the Germans stepped in angrily, arguing that their
language was numerically the most important one in the Union, and
their country the main contributor to the common budget. The result
of these comings and goings has been that the Brussels budget for
translation and interpretation has kept growing vigorously. Official
documents, for instance, have validity for a country only when translated
into that countrys language, and not before. Some may see only
national prickliness in this, but on the other hand, the Danes, the
Greeks, the Portuguese or the Finns know that if they renounce the
official status of their language, in the long run they may be endangering
their own cultural identity. Yet for imperious practical reasons a solution
has to be found, but which one? Which language or languages should
be made official and for what reasons? How should the other ones be
treated? What should be done in a democratic Europe if, say, someone
insists on using Catalan in official communications and argues that more
Europeans speak Catalan than Danish? Or if the same person simply
takes the view that what is at stake is an inalienable right?

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31

3. The fact that there will be no single dominant group in Europe


gives, as I see it, more elbow-room to minorities, that is to those ethnic
and linguistic groups who have often been victimised by dominant
majorities within the national states. There are voices coming usually
from these majorities who find it inexplicable that there should be fits
of tribalism within the European integration process. This rather illmannered expression, and other similar ones, betray something like
shortsightedness, or, even worse, selective historical blindness. What has
happened is that today it is possible to air what yesterday was repressed;
what then comes out is part and parcel of the European historical
heritage, so full of injustices in need of reparation. And how keenly these
wrongs can be felt, and how stubbornly their righting can be demanded,
has to do, again, with human nature: we humans commit injustices quite
easily, but can be tireless if we ourselves suffer one. In accordance with
this fact, the dominant groups do not even think of all they have inflicted
upon the smaller ones, and then are surprised, if not incensed, when the
latter show unflinching determination in their attitudes. Large or small in
size, all have become inhabitants of the same house, and strife within it
will increasingly affect every one of us. So we will have to learn to get
along with each other, and this means that the larger groups will have to
respect the smaller ones, at least more than they did. The national state
was like a boxing ring without a referee: the stronger contender could
bully the weaker one, and there was no one to step in and stop him. In a
Europe of many groups and languages, of very different sizes, this
bullying is impossible, as we are all in the same ring now. This is good
news, but it is sobering to consider that such an evolution, if it takes
place, will be basically due to a modification in the rapport des forces,
and not to any honest reappraisal of historical conduct.
4. Europe is like the teeth in an old mouth.Those teeth are large,
with deep, intertwined roots and have grown so by jostling for space
among themselves. Needless to say, putting order among such teeth,
or bringing them into aesthetic and functional harmony, is going to be
quite a job, and such is going to be the case too, with European
integration. On the one hand, the economy, the shortening of distances
and the revolution in telecommunications are bringing us closer and
closer; on the other hand, the Europeans are not ready to lose their
roots and become, like the United States, a melting pot. We want to
go on being what we are, and yet our increasing closeness cannot but
influence us mutually. How could this influence work? Perhaps
neighbouring languages could provide a useful hint.
Two such languages rarely, if ever, fuse into a third. Mutual influences
are more subtle, less crass. Words and constructions are imported or

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

exported, because, as Wittgenstein would say, ways of life are accepted


or abandoned. In time, those formerly foreign products are absorbed
and no substitute can be found for them. In present day German, for
example, and since the days of Nietzsche, the acute dislike which is
called Ressentiment cannot be expressed better than with this,
originally French, word. All European languages present numerous
similar cases, which betray the extent of mutual influences. Russian and
German bear witness in their very vocabulary, to the cultural dominance
of French at other times. In spite of stubborn, officially supported
resistence, French is being infiltrated some even say undermined
by anglicisms and americanisms. But English itself is a Germanic
language very deeply coloured by Norman French and medieval Latin.
A certain amount of cultural and linguistic mixing has always taken
place, and I think the modern world will increase its pace. A few
months back one could read in an important European weekly, that the
Germans have become more British (pragmatic) in politics and more
Mediterranean in their culture. If one compares the different generations
in Austria, Germany or German-speaking Switzerland, one cannot but
conclude that such indeed is the case. Spanish tapas can be found in
some French or Belgian bars, and many Spaniards have for breakfast
the very traditionally Swiss-German muesli. The houses we inhabit,
the companies and organisations we work for, the salaries we receive,
the taxes we pay, the cars we drive... we are less and less different in
more and more things. But then, my South Tirolean students come to
mind.
South Tirol is a small region, which has belonged to Italy since
1918. Previously it was part of Austria and practically 100 % Germanspeaking. Mussolini tried to italianise it despotically through, among
other means, population transfers. Nowadays, according to the latest
census, close to 70 % of the South Tiroleans count themselves in the
German-speaking group, the rest being Italian speakers, save (as in
easternmost Switzerland) a very reduced group of Ladins, who speak
Romansh, a language directly derived from Latin. After the Second
World War, and amid tensions which provoked some terrorist outbreaks,
an autonomous administration was granted to the region. All in all,
one might say, a very European situation.Now, my German-speaking
students who come from this region to study in Austria do not feel
themselves to be Austrians, as often their parents, and even more
staunchly their grandparents did. They appreciate very much certain
aspects of the Italian life-style like clothes, the tone of personal contacts,
the human as they say flexible way of solving intricate or
difficult situations. And they say quite clearly what they think. The

EUROPE AS A MOSAIC OF IDENTITIES: SOME REFLECTIONS

33

typically Austrian or German way of doing things is for them


legalistic, boorish and unpleasant. Does this all mean they feel Italian?
Not at all, even if their Italian is often very fluent and natural. When
asked, they say that they feel German, in the cultural but not
political sense of the word.
Unlike their grandparents, they are not interested at all in a possible
reincorporation into Austria, and the more so in this post-Schengen
era, when the Brenner frontier, cleaving the very heart of a once single
and united Tirol, is becoming, for all practical purposes, irrelevant. If
asked about their language, they will unhesitatingly answer German,
and consider Italian as no more than a beautiful, practical acquisition.
They will say we in Italy have a different law for this and that, but
two years ago one such student came to see me because he needed
my authorisation for a student exchange programme. When I asked
him where he wanted to go, he said Florence. I asked why, and his
reply was: in order to learn Italian. Rather surprised, I remarked that
he came from a city where the poulation is 50 % Italian, and whose
mayor is alternately a German speaker and an Italian speaker; his
simple answer was: thats true, but we dont mix with the Italians.
And this was far from being the only case in which I have heard this
we dont mix.
5. These students of mine make me think how decisive language
can be as a cultural factor. They also make me reflect on how fluid a
cultural identity can be and on how the emerging European framework
could affect the historical identities that it embraces. Many of the
factors which defined a cultural identity are fading or losing grip; to be
at once a Pole and a Buddhist was, not so long ago, as inconceivable as
being a Catholic and a Korean. Geography and history conspired to
shape types which seemed as unchangeable as the works of nature;
one was Polish and Catholic as indisputably as grass is green and the
sky blue. But technology has greatly diminished geographic distances,
and the accelerated rhythm of change in our times makes us see as
historically conditioned, as culturally contingent, many things which, to
our forebears, were carved in stone. Like it or not, the Other as onlooker
questions our very self, and on the other hand, our very existence is an
inevitable reference for the Other. If the world is becoming a village,
this is a fortiori the case in the European section of that village. We are
so inextricably bound together, so thoroughly intertwined, that it is
impossible to say how we may influence each other, and this is for me
one of the most fascinating unknowns in the emerging European
equation: how will the present linguistic, confessional, and institutional
identities evolve? No one, of course, knows the correct answer. It is a

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

good bet to assume that some formerly absolute loyalties, some


previously differential features, will simply wither away. Others, though,
may acquire renewed importance. In any case, new constellations are
bound to appear, new definitions based on the preferences manifested
by the Europeans. As in the case of my South Tirolean students, such
preferences may considerably modify traditional frameworks, some of
their elements being appreciated while others are depreciated. But
surviving identities, as well as new ones, will owe their success to a
factor that I consider essential, and which I can only describe in
commercial terms, although I would not like to be understood
commercially: only what sells will last, and only what is attractive will
sell. As we all know, the market is pitiless, and if we are of no interest
to the Other, the Other will discard us. Such is life. Fortunately, we can
be of interest for many reasons, and single parameter views of human
realities and their future are dangerously simplistic. For this reason, the
future of Europe and of its components is a fundamentally open one
and will depend on the attractiveness of the options which emerge.
This may be disquieting for some and hopeful for others. I think it will
be interesting for all.

Minorities, policies and strategies in Europe:


a Belgian (Flemish) view
Paul Mahieu

1. Belgium: a multi-cultural country


Belgium has a rich history of multi-culturalism, having been a multilingual entity since its birth in 1830. The state consists of three regions:
Flanders (Dutch speaking); Wallonia (French speaking); and a small
German-speaking area. The capital, Brussels, is a bilingual city. As the
capital of the European Union and the headquarters of different
international organisations (such as NATO) and companies, the city is
very attractive to foreigners. In earlier times, Belgium always had
widespread international trade relationships: think of the harbour cities
of Antwerp and Bruges.
Between 1930 and 1980 there were three main waves of immigration
into Belgium. The first one involved Polish and Italian immigrants who
came from rural areas with poor economic prospects to work in the
Belgian mining industry. The second wave of immigration started in
1947 and followed a similar pattern to the first. It was focused once
again on the mining industry but for the first time the flow of
immigrants was organised into quotas and called on the services of
workers from different countries, such as Spain and Greece. The third
wave of immigration took place in the sixties with workers from
different countries (Turkey, Morocco) filling vacancies in new sectors of
activity, such as the transport and construction industries. During this
period, which was described as the golden sixties, the Ministry of
Labour and Employment issued no less than 125,000 work permits
over four years. The same Ministry arranged for a brochure called
Vivre et travailler en Belgique to be distributed in countries in which
a high proportion of the population were seeking to work overseas:
We in Belgium are happy that you are coming to our country to offer

36

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

us the services of your strength and intelligence... Belgium is a country


in which work is well paid, and people enjoy a high standard of living,
particularly those with families (OECD, 1991: 271).
Now, at this moment, we are confronted with the negative effects
of the immigration policy. Since 1974 economic growth has declined,
and the migrants have been the first victims of that process. At present
about 20 % of the migrants are unemployed, while the average
unemployment rate for indigenous people is 11 %. In some regions
(like the city of Malines) the unemployment rate for migrants is 42 %,
four times the rate for indigenous people. Social unrest, disturbances
by some groups of migrant youngsters, racism, and the relative electoral
success of extreme right wing political parties have been the direct
outcomes of this socio-economic situation.
The current debate on the policy for minorities must be understood
in the context of the relative success by the extreme right-wing Vlaams
Blok party in the last elections and recent disturbances by young
migrant people on the one hand, and the present so-called white
movement,1 a reaction to blunders made by the police and judiciary in
investigating paedophilia cases, on the other. Just one year ago the
funeral took place of the Moroccan girl, Loubna Ben Aissa, who was
murdered by a paedophile. That was a unique moment when people
became conscious of the dignity of the migrant community. Some
individuals, such as the King of Belgium, Ben Aissas sister, and the
parents of other murdered and disappeared children gave a face to that
movement. Their influence on policy is unquestionable, but at the same
time invisible. The lesson from this is that multicultural coexistence is not
only a question of policy. Policy has always followed trends in society.
Belgium's federal and democratic state organisation is not the
result of a rational policy-making process. It is rather the result of
economic conjuncture, power relations, influence of action groups and
social movements, public demonstrations, and the actions of particular
elites and individuals. The same is true of policy concerning ethnic
minorities, and educational policy in particular.
2. Migrants and education
The short account given above shows that there are many different
foreign groups in Belgium. First of all, the so-called indigenous people
have a very international origin. My name, for example, has southern
1

white here is used to symbolise innocence, and not in a racial sense.

MINORITIES, POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN EUROPE: A BELGIAN (FLEMISH) VIEW

37

French roots. Secondly, Belgium is a very open Europe-oriented


community. Thus, Flanders is home to more than 61,000 people with
Dutch nationality (citizens of the Netherlands, who use the same
language as Flemish people). Its significant that they are not seen as
migrants. On the other hand, the 46,000 Moroccans and 45,000
Turks, including those who have obtained Belgian nationality, are all
seen as migrants. People identify them as such by their names, their
outlook, their religion, their habits, and the fact that the older migrants
on the whole dont speak Dutch, at least not at home.
By migrants, we mean people of foreign origin who have settled
in our country, and want to remain there. That implies that these
people prefer a kind of integration. Thats the reason most migrant
families are reunited, and the young people become estranged from
the country of their parents or grandparents.
Education is seen as the ultimate means for promoting integration:
directly by the process of socialisation, and indirectly as a foundation
for employment. But it seems that our schools dont succeed in this
challenge. In the first year of primary education one third of migrants
seem to be backward and 8 % are referred to special education for
the mentally handicapped (cf. 5 % for indigenous Belgians). At secondary
level we see about 60 % of non-European pupils in schools for
vocational education and fewer than 20 % in general secondary
education. For indigenous pupils the rates are respectively 22 % and
45 %. Only 1 % of the student population in higher education is of
migrant origin.
3. Educational policy for migrants: three periods
As mentioned earlier, policy is always a result of changing cultural
paradigms. Policy is also connected with scientific paradigms. In this
respect, I would like to distinguish three periods of educational policy
for migrants, and connect these periods with three theories concerning
the explanation of the disadvantaged status of migrant people.
The first period covers the seventies and early eighties. In this
period nothing was done for the migrants. They were seen only as a
source of cheap unqualified manpower. Their marginal social status
was explained as being a result of cultural deficiency and a lack of fluency
in the majority language. Educational policy was restricted to some
language compensation programmes.
In the eighties the emphasis changed from compensation programmes to differentiation programmes. The paradigm of those years

38

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

was that it was not the migrant but the school system that caused
marginalisation, because that system was based on the modal white
pupil and did not answer to the needs and preferences of the migrants.
In this respect changes in curricula were implemented, with such
courses as Dutch as a second language, mother tongue education,
and Islamic religion. The broad principles centred around respect for
the cultural groups identities, collaboration in schools between
indigenous and guest teachers, and preparing pupils for social life,
and professional life in particular (FASE, 1994: 93-96). These conditions
reinforced the schools segregation mode through their identity policies
and the tendency to differentiate the minority children from Flemish
children by employing ethnic boundaries. In consequence, migrants
chose those schools that made the greatest efforts to meet their
interests, while at the same time the majority population moved away
from them, because their perception was that the quality of those
black schools declined.
I start the third period in 1991. In May of that year the Flemish
Government decided to improve the educational facilities of schools
with at least 10 % migrant pupils in order to reduce their educational
handicap and to advance integration. Within this Educational Priority
Policy, black schools can apply for additional teaching periods and
support from a special educational advisor. In order to receive this
support, they need to describe their specific actions oriented towards
intercultural and language education, prevention and solution of
learning difficulties in co-operation with an educational guidance centre,
and school community work (the obligation for the school to collaborate
with a social welfare centre together with the local migrant organisation).
The result was a more appropriate and professional approach by
schools and a shift from black schools to schools with more moderate
percentages of minority children. However, the situation of black
schools remained the same, as they were confronted with a loss of
their best pupils.
4. The 1993 non-discrimination charter
In 1993, the Flemish Minister of Education together with the
educational associations declared a non-discrimination charter in order
to further facilitate the integration of minority children into Flemish
society. The two objectives of the policy are: a greater awareness with
respect to discrimination in schools, and the realisation of an admission
policy as a way to establish a proportional presence of migrant pupils in

MINORITIES, POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN EUROPE: A BELGIAN (FLEMISH) VIEW

39

all the schools of a community. The implementation of the nondiscrimination charter is a matter for the local community. A local
agreement is worked out through negotiation among the organising
authorities of the schools to implement the admission policy. Furthermore,
in order to stimulate this policy, the government offers additional
resources to those black schools that are able to redefine their strategy
according to the non-discrimination policy (EVELING, 1996; JANSSENS/
SEYNAEVE, 1998).
This policy is an example of the more integrated approach of the
government. Structural theory teaches us that education cannot be
isolated from other social affairs. Schooling, housing, employment,
cultural participation and exclusion, are all interrelated. Crucial to the
whole process is the mutual tolerance between the different ethnic
groups. The first aim of the policy is therefore to create tolerance and
prevent racism. A research project I conducted in order to evaluate the
implementation of the non-discrimination charter formulated three
main conclusions (MAHIEU 1997).
First of all, the aim of a better spread of migrants over the schools
(desegregation) has not been realised. On the contrary, the concentration
(measured by the standard deviation as a statistical mean to objectivate
spread) has been strengthened, especially in small schools. This does
not mean that schools actively facilitate that process, but the large
elitist white schools, especially, do not take any action against it. And
by following such a passive policy, they strengthen the prevailing
opinions about social stratification.
Secondly, not all schools have the necessary capacity for playing an
active local policy role. Since most of the government's measures at
present are voluntary, the schools need the capacity to analyse their
market positions, to write an action plan in which they specify their
concrete actions, and to negotiate with government, other schools and
stakeholders. External assistance and support seems essential for a
successful implementation of such a policy. It is clear that schools which
see themselves as an element in a network of stakeholders (Figure 1)
have more chance of success because they can use their moral
power as an instrument to influence the different stakeholders. Low
power stakeholders who are trying to achieve a voice in the domain
may need to build their power base before they can gain legitimate
status as a stakeholder. Everything depends on the way the school can
influence the dominant values, and convince the stakeholders of the
social attractiveness of its multicultural project (JANSSENS/SEYNAEVE,
1998: 5-7).

40

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

Migrant
Communit

Migrants
Associatio

Black
School
Organizing
Authorities

White
Schools
School
Councellors
Flemish
Parents
Schools
Outside
Local

Figure 1
The black school within its network of stakeholder relationships

The model shown in Figure 2 is inspired by the so-called Boston


Consultants matrix. It brings together the organisational values and the
dominant values in the school's environment. The questions that must
be answered are: is the value system of the school and the social
project that makes that culture visible compatible with the dominant
values in society, and how strong are both value-systems?
In Belgium, for example, the market position of white elitist schools
is strong because their values are compatible with the dominant
culture. They play the role of success organisations. Schools with a
multicultural project play the role of an action group, a grassroots
organisation, because those schools try to change the common opinions.
For them it is a challenge to convince the environment of their social
responsibility. The other types of organisation the sect and the

MINORITIES, POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN EUROPE: A BELGIAN (FLEMISH) VIEW

Internal
value-system

Strong

Weak

Strong

Success
Organisation

Missionary subculture

Weak

Grass-roots
Organisation

Sect

41

External
value system

Figure 2
Types of organisational (sub)cultures based on the dominance of the internal
and external value-systems

missionary subculture concern schools where the internal values are


weak in contrast to the dominant values: for example, the white school
where some teachers try to convince their colleagues about some socially
attractive projects (missionary subculture), or schools where an extremist
minority (e.g. fundamentalist religious teachers) try to convince their
school and the whole world of their religious opinion (sect) (DIETVORST/
MAHIEU/PEENE, forthcoming).
The third conclusion of my research concerns the role of the
ideological debate on multiculturalism. In those cities where the
implementation of the non-discrimination charter has been the object
of incidents and of public discussion, the results are more positive than
in those where the local deliberation fora have tried to keep their
problems out of the newspapers. That these fora are working is not
evident. Since the Belgian constitution has declared the freedom of
(supply and choice of) education, competition between the so-called
pillars (Catholic, provincial; communal, official education) and between
individual schools is institutionalised and co-operation between them is
unusual. Representatives of schools with different ideological and
cultural features were obliged to analyse their mutual responsibilities vis
vis the migrant problem. Where the segregation process strengthened
the traditional cultural barriers (i.e. where the migrant pupils were
concentrated in some particular schools, especially in official schools)
the debate was characterised by arguments concerning fundamental
human rights (such as the freedom of school choice and religion).
These discussions were sometimes very intense and emotional. But in
all local fora the result was that the representatives of the different
schools made each others acquaintance, which generally resulted in a
growing mutual appreciation. The most important effect was that the

42

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

school representatives became conscious of their common social


responsibility with regard to the problem of segregation and the quality
of education. In that respect, the non-discrimination charter caused a
double culture shock: between ethnic communities and between Belgian
(ideology-based) subcultures. On both sides, the implementation of the
charter is a step towards a more tolerant society.
References
DIETVORST, C.; MAHIEU, P.; PEENE, P. (forthcoming): De verantwoordelijke school
(The responsible school), Samsom H.D. Tjeenk Willink, Alphen a/d Rijn.
EVELING, P. (1996): Non-discrimination charter in the education system of the
Flemish Community (Belgium), OECD, Strasbourg.
FASE, W. (1994): Ethnic division in Western European education, Waxmann
Mnster, New York.
JANSSENS, M.; SEYNAEVE, K. (1998): Collaborating to segregate a black school:
how can a low power stakeholder gain voice? KUL, Leuven, 18 March.
MAHIEU, P. (1997): Elkaar ontmoetende scholen op de weg naar elkaar
ontmoetend onderwijs (Schools meeting schools on the way to a multicultural
education), UFSIA, Antwerp.
OECD (1991): Education in Belgium: the diverging paths, Strasbourg.

Relations between the State and ethnic minorities


in Norway
Ada Engebrigtsen

In this paper I will give a general and descriptive outline of the past
and present relationship between the state and its agents, and ethnic
minorities living in Norway. Norway has traditionally been an ethnically
homogeneous society. Since Norway was first established as a state in
the late twelfth century, only two languages have been spoken in the
country, Norwegian and Saami, apart from small groups speaking Kven
(Finnish-Norwegian) and Romani (a Norwegian gypsy dialect). Relatively
equal distribution of resources and a decentralised economy and state
power has developed a culturally homogeneous population that today
numbers 4.5 million people. But what follows is not altogether a nice
story about a benevolent state and its happy subjects.
1. Historical outlines
The Saami (Lapp) population is the only minority that today has
official status as a national indigenous minority. The Saami population in
Norway is estimated at about 30,000, but as in most minority situations
the numbers are of course dependent on definition and that is a complex
issue. Saami people live as minority groups in Norway, Sweden, Finland
and Russia with their own language, Saami, which belongs to the Finnish
Ugrian language group. Saami refers equally to the people, the
language and the territory they traditionally have utilised. The Saami are,
however, not a homogeneous population, but comprise groups that
differ according to dialect, culture and traditional occupation. Relations
between the Norwegian state and the Saami people have not been
static. The first documented agreement between the state and the
Lapps, in the eighteenth century, states the Saami's rights to use the

44

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

grasslands and natural resources on both sides of the NorwegianSwedish border. This agreement acknowledges the Saami as a nation
with its own rights and way of life. A century later, however, the state
monopolised all territory in the northern areas and the Saami were
without rights to land. Up to the second world war, Saami people were
pursuing economic activities much like Norwegians in general with the
exception of reindeer herding, an exclusively Saami activity. Few
restrictions were set on their herding activities. However, from the end of
the first world war, when Norway gained its independence from Sweden,
until 1970 the state carried out a harsh policy of assimilation towards the
Saami people involving compulsory schooling, prohibition of the Saami
language in school and the Saami religion, and official contempt for
everything Saami. This forceful process of Norwegianisation was in line
with the construction of the Norwegian way of life and establishment of
the welfare state based on a Norwegian ideology of equality.
At the same time Saami ethnic consciousness was steadily rising.
This developed into an ethnopolitical struggle in the late seventies
when a hydroelectric power plant was to be constructed on Saami
traditional territory. The construction of the necessary dam on the Alta
river would destroy traditional reindeer pastures. This, the Alta case,
was the turning point of Saami and state relations. One Saami strategy
was to establish connections with the World Council of Indigenous
People and work for Saami rights on a global level. As a consequence
of the Alta case conflict and the international media coverage which
it attracted, the state gave the Saami recognition as an indigenous
ethnic minority with certain rights. A commission was set up to establish
an agreement between the state and the Saami population. This
commission stated that the Saami should be recognised as a distinct
people in accordance with the international conventions on minorities.
Further, the Saami should have exclusive rights as Saami in Norway. It
was stated that the Norwegian state had established itself on Norwegian
and Saami territory and that the Saami had the right to economic
support to develop language, culture and religion. This acknowledgement
was reinforced by the Saami legislation in 1987 and the establishment
of the Saami Council in 1989. The Saami Council has not, however,
been given any formal power so the struggle for rights over the natural
resources in Saami territory is still not resolved.
Today Saami people are a modern people who live all over the
country and are engaged in all sorts of occupations at all levels of
society just like Norwegians. There are, however, also Saami who live in
the so-called core territories in northern Norway and are occupied
with modernised traditional occupations.

RELATIONS BETWEEN THE STATE AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN NORWAY

45

The other longstanding minority groups are the Kven, Jews, Tater
and Rom. Recent immigrants and refugees will not be considered in
the present context.
The Kven are descendants of Finnish immigrants to northern
Norway in the nineteenth century and are estimated to number about
15,000 persons with the same limitations concerning definition as stated
for the Saami. They have no legal status as Kven, only as Norwegian
citizens. There are no exclusive ethnic communities of Kven today;
identity is established by knowledge of descent and knowledge of the
Finnish language. Some local communities in northern Norway are,
however, dominated by descendants of Kven people.
The Jews are an old minority in Norway. Since 1851 they have had
rights as Norwegian citizens and most Jews were socially, culturally and
economically integrated into Norwegian society by the second world
war. In spite of this, many were sent to Germany during the war. There
were 1,800 Jews in Norway in 1940 and only 560 in 1946. Today Jews
form a religious community of 1,200 members.
The Tater are the equivalents of Spain's Gitanos and England's
Gypsies. The Tater are an old minority group in Norway and their origin
is unclear. They might be descendants of some early Gypsy migration;
they might also be descendants of the rural and urban poor that have
mixed and intermarried with Gypsies and taken up a lifestyle as itinerant
artisans. Up till the second world war theTater were quite numerous
and roamed the countryside with horses and wagons, doing all kinds
of itinerant artisan work in the villages. They spoke their own language,
Romani, which is classified as a dialect of Norwegian with a vocabulary
derived from Romanes (the language of the Rom Gypsies). From about
1930 they were heavily persecuted by the state through the Christian
organisation Mission among the Homeless (Norsk misjon blant
hjemlse), which was entrusted with the assignment of solving the
Tater problem. Labour camps were erected for Tater families, where
they were supposed to learn proper skills, be given basic education,
stop drinking, and become devoted Christians. Families were forcibly
deported to these camps with the penalty of losing their children to the
state if they refused. Most families moved into the camps and adopted
a Norwegian lifestyle. The state agents, however, took many children
away and turned them over to children's homes, farmers and Norwegian
families for correction. Even forced sterilisation and lobotomy were
used to some degree, to wipe out the Tater as a race. This policy was
started in the 1930s and was explained as necessary race hygiene; in
the political rhetoric of those days, the Tater were considered a primitive
and degenerate race. This led to an almost complete assimilation of

46

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

Tater both as a group and as individuals; Tater identity was so stigmatised


that it was socially impossible to admit to it among Norwegians.
The last ten years, however, have shown that not even that forced
assimilation process has been a total success from the point of view of
the government of those days. Currently most Tater live as Norwegians,
but many are trying to revive Tater traditions and identity now that
altered ideologies about ethnicity and nationality have made this
possible. Today three or four organisations are pursuing the interests of
the roughly 2,000-3,000 Taters with the government. These interests
are concentrated on economic compensation for the ethnic cleansing
they have experienced as a group and the illegal removal of children,
lobotomy and sterilisation experienced by individuals.
The Rom (Gypsies of the Vlax Rom category) are a relatively new
minority in Norway. They started settling in the country around 1850,
but have always been nomadic and only live in Norway in the winter
season. They speak Vlax Romanes, an Indic language. They have always
been few, numbering only about 350 today (1999), and all belong to
one tightly knit kindred group linked to groups all over Europe through
kinship ties. Gypsies avoided Norwegian assimilation policies before the
first world war by going to Germany, France and Belgium. When
fascism and the war approached in Europe, a group of 50 Gypsies,
some with Norwegian birth certificates, tried to get back into their
country for security. They were, however, refused entry and sent back
to Central Europe, where most of them died in the concentration
camps. In the early sixties the survivors and their children returned to
Norway and applied for citizenship, which they were granted. In the
seventies the government launched a massive programme to settle,
educate and create jobs for the 350 Gypsies. This programme lasted
for about 20 years, while at its height the state paid all the Gypsies'
expenses in exchange for adjustment. The project was, however, totally
unsuccessful from the government's point of view. Today the Gypsies
form a distinct ethnic community in Oslo and make their living by trading
in carpets, cars and gold, by grinding tools and by social security benefits.
They travel in Europe during spring, summer and fall. Their children do
not attend school, they are illiterate but economically quite well off. They
have no minority status but full rights as Norwegian citizens.
2. Ethnic minorities and anthropological research
The Saami people have been the focus of extended research by
Norwegian sociologists, linguists and historians and last but not least,

RELATIONS BETWEEN THE STATE AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN NORWAY

47

anthropologists. A joke used to state that in the seventies a Saami family


consisted of mother and father, three children and an anthropologist.
This research has had an important impact on the development of
Saami consciousness and ethnic struggle. It has also inspired the
development of academic studies of ethnic relations and related theory
building at Norwegian universities. Among other works, Fredrik Barth's
Ethnic groups and boundaries is a result of this focus on ethnicity and
research on Saami relations, as is Harald Eidheim's Aspects of the
Lappish minority situation. Saami research has been concentrated at
the University of Troms in Northern Norway, where the Department of
Anthropology was first established as a Department for Saami Research,
and the curriculum has been focused around indigenous matters,
ethnicity and resource management. Today all Norwegian universities
are engaged in some sort of minority research. The Kven population
has been less studied than the Saami, but some important research has
been carried out in this area. Tater and Rom have been studied mostly
at the master level and no theoretical framework or research milieu
have been developed for such studies. Jews in Norway have only
recently emerged as a group and are only these days on the verge of
being defined as an ethnic minority.
3. Today's European discussion: classifying national minorities
Apart from a Saami policy the Norwegian government has no
official minority policy. This situation is, however, changing. Currently
the government is establishing arenas for discussion with the country's
minorities about their legal status. Norway has entered the Framework
Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Council of Europe,
1995), and the implementation of this agreement rests on the ability to
define which groups should be recognised as national minorities. One
meeting has been held in Oslo between the Ministry of Municipalities,
researchers and representatives of the minority groups discussed above
(Kommunal og regionaldepartementet, 1998). This interesting meeting
clearly pinpointed the problems in defining and delimiting minority
groups for bureaucratic purposes. The different representatives reacted
to this effort in different ways.
The Jews are very few in Norway and their representatives neither
objected nor adhered to the idea of becoming a national minority
group. Their main concern was to have some political connections to
support their interests as a people, the confiscation of Jewish property
being a central issue. The Saami were not interested in being classified

48

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

as a national minority as their status as an indigenous people defines


them in a more appropriate way. No Rom representatives attended the
meeting; they are not very interested in the issue, but influential Rom
had stated that they would like to have a powerful contact person in
the department to turn to for support of their interests, such as a
permanent camping site in Oslo and general permission to practise
itinerant trading.
The Kven representatives were the only invited representatives
who were genuinely positive to the idea. The status of national
minority would enable local communities in northern Norway with a
great percentage of Kven people to seek financial support for local
museums etc. As a surprise a representative of a category presented
as Skogfinner (Forest Finns) appeared at the meeting. This category
contains many different groups of descendants of Finnish people
who practised slash and burn agriculture in the forest area of
Southeastern Norway up to the twentieth century. They no longer
speak Finnish and consider themselves assimilated into Norwegian
society, but their representative regarded the status of national
minority as a means to obtain economic support for research,
protection of the cultural heritage, and contact with other Finnish
Diaspora communities.
The meeting was especially illuminating when it comes to the
reaction among the Tater, who have been the most persecuted
group in Norway. Individual Tater had telephoned and written to the
Ministry long before the meeting. Many were in panic and believed
that to be classified as a national minority would imply that they are
recognised as less Norwegian than other Norwegians and that the
old persecution would start over again. Others were afraid they
would have to learn their old language and wear certain marks of
identification or live in certain areas. The Ministry's officials had
great difficulty in convincing the Tater of their honest and innocent
motives: that the status of national minority was meant as compensation
for previous wrongs. One of the Tater representatives commented:
The convention for the protection of national minorities is 20 years
too late; today we are no longer a people and we are no longer
persecuted by the state.
I believe the Tater's reaction to the state's aims to define national
minorities should be taken seriously. The effort is in line with the
general process of Europeanisation of the nation state and, as such, a
possible continuation of an old modernist theme of tidying up to
secure the centralisation of power. What profit may there be in that for
minorities?

RELATIONS BETWEEN THE STATE AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN NORWAY

49

References
BARTH, F. (1969): Ethnic groups and boundaries: The social organisation of
cultural difference, Universitetsforlaget, Oslo.
EIDHEIM, H. (1977): Aspects of the Lappish minority situation, Universitetsforlaget,
Oslo.
KOMMUNAL OG REGIONALDEPARTEMENTET, INNVANDRINGS AVDELINGEN (1998): Nasjonale
minoriteter og statlig politikk: Rapport fra an tverrdepartemental
arbeidsgruppe.

Additional reading
BARTH, F. (1955): The social organisation of a pariah group in Norway,
Norveg 5.
BRANTENBERG, T.O. (1991): Constructing indigenous self-government in a
nation-state: Samediggi, the Sami Parliament in Norway. In: The challenge
of northern regions, ed. P. Jull and S. Roberts, Darwin Press.

Minorities, policies and strategies in Europe: Germany


Wolfgang Bosswick

Unlike other countries reported on in this book, Germany does not


have a large indigenous minority, although the country is not as
homogeneous as it might appear at first glance. Nevertheless, as a
result of the modernisation under Wilhelm II after the violent unification
of Germany by Bismarck in the last century, Germany under Prussian
rule developed a dominant national identity. After World War I the
largest part of the only major minority within the German Empire, the
Polish population in the Eastern areas, was included in the reborn
Polish State. The traditional mixed population of Poles or Czechs and
Germans in Central Europe was further separated by the massive
migration after World War II. Today, reunified Germany has only a few
indigenous minorities, which are quite small compared to the total
population of approximately 89 million: there is a Danish-speaking
minority (c. 50,000) in Schleswig-Holstein in the north, a Frisianspeaking population in the north-west (c. 10,000), the Sorbians, a
minority of c. 70,000 people in Eastern Saxonia speaking a Slavic
language, and the Sinti and Roma, the Gipsy groups, of approximately
70,000 people. The Danish-speaking minority has had a special status
since World War II with special minority rights, including political
representation in the Schleswig-Holstein parliament. For the Sorbian
minority, the former German Democratic Republic provided a supporting
programme to foster their language and local culture within its
authoritarian political system. The other minorities mentioned above
received official minority status in 1997, in accordance with the
European convention on minority rights (HECKMANN, 1992).
As in other European countries, post-war labour migration and,
from the eighties onward, refugee movements, formed new minorities
in Germany, although it is still open to question whether the migrant
communities will persist as stable minorities. The labour shortage in

52

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

Germany's economic miracle of the fifties led to the guest worker


programme in which official recruiting facilities were installed in some
of the relevant countries. In 1955 the first treaty on hiring guest
workers was signed with Italy. Spain and Greece followed in 1960 and,
due to Turkish diplomatic interventions, a corresponding treaty with
Turkey was signed in 1961 (STEINERT, 1995). Further agreements were
made with Morocco in 1963, with Portugal in 1964, with Tunisia in
1965 and with Yugoslavia in 1968.The inflow of guest workers peaked
in 1970 with about one million, resulting in a net immigration of
547,000 in the same year. Although the guest worker programme
envisaged a rotation scheme, thus expecting a return home after a
limited period of two or three years, the immigration led to a quite
stable population of immigrants who remained although often not
intentionally in Germany. Only the former GDR enforced this rotation
scheme for their foreign employees from Cuba, Mozambique, Angola
and Vietnam. As a consequence of the oil crisis, the German government
imposed a halt on recruitment on 23 November 1973. After this
regulation, immigration to Germany was only possible via family
reunification regulations, which became the prime source of net
immigration into Germany in the eighties. On 1 December 1983, the
German government launched a programme to encourage, and
support financially, the repatriation of former guest workers. This
programme resulted in a small repatriation of approximately 80,000
Turkish guest workers and their families. It seems that in many cases a
planned repatriation took place earlier than originally envisaged in
order to get support from the programme, since the repatriation figures
decreased sharply after the end of the programme. Apart from this
limited result, the programme certainly had some impact on the migrant
population by stating symbolically that their departure was desired.
In spite of this policy, the population of former guest workers in
Germany became increasingly stable. As an indicator, one can look at
the gender distribution.The proportion of female foreigners reached
45 % in 1987, maintaining this level approximately since then, while
the figures for the years before were between 37 % and 42 %.
Between 1952 and 1995, about 28 million people immigrated into
Germany and 19.5 million emigrated, resulting in a net immigration of
8.3 million. A considerable share of this gross immigration 3.9
million took place after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, mainly
caused by the immigration of ethnic Germans from the former Soviet
Union, and by asylum seekers, which peaked in 1990 (ethnic Germans)
and 1992 (asylum seekers) at around 400,000 per year. The populist
uses of the asylum issue in several election campaigns, the obvious

MINORITIES, POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN EUROPE: GERMANY

53

consequences of this immigration peak on the population level, and


the position of the German government, which repeatedly stated that
it was unable to deal with the serious problem of asylum abuse due
to Article 16 of the German Basic Law and the opposition's reluctance
to change this article, all contributed to the rise of violent attacks
against foreigners. This violent populism (LEGGEWIE, 1992) decreased
after the compromise on the change to Article 16 in July 1993, which
also included a ceiling on the annual number of ethnic Germans
immigrating (BOSSWICK, 1997). The level of xenophobic violence in
Germany decreased considerably after this compromise, although it
remained on a quite high level compared to the years before 1992.
Regardless of the sharp decrease in the annual figures of both asylum
seekers and ethnic German immigrants in recent years, xenophobic
crimes still amount to more than 2,000 per year.
In 1996, the foreign population in Germany was 7.3 million, 8.9 %
of the total population. Almost half of this population had been resident
more than 10 years (49.4 %) or was actually born in Germany (approximately a quarter of all foreign nationals). In 1994, 6.3 % of all births
took place in a family of Turkish origin, 33.7 % in a family with at least
one foreign parent. Thus the immigration to Germany which was
intended to be temporary in the eyes of both the migrants and the
receiving society, resulted in the formation of new minorities: 28 % of
the foreign population in 1996 was of Turkish origin, 19 % from
Yugoslavia, 8 % from Italy, 5 % from Greece and 4 % from Poland, to
name the most represented nationalities (LEDERER, 1997).
The policies of the German government towards minorities are
ambivalent. First, there is a distinction between the indigenous
minorities named above, which were officially recognised as national
minorities enjoying certain minority rights, and the minorities formed
by immigration. This policy became apparent when spokesmen for the
Turkish population and the Green Party demanded the acknowledgement
of the Turks as national minority in 1996, a request which was clearly
refused by the governing coalition.
More important is the ambivalence of the policy guidelines relating to
migrants. According to various statements by government representatives,
the German policy towards migrants encompasses three principles:
integration of the ones who are likely to remain, restriction on further
immigration, and encouragement of return to the country of origin. It
remains unclear whether this policy is directed towards a perpetuation
of minority status, or towards acculturation and integration, requiring a
certain openness of the receiving society including the provision of full
rights as German citizens (HECKMANN, 1998). This ambivalence is also

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

reflected in the remarkable contrast between, on the one hand, full


integration in the welfare system of the Soziale Marktwirtschaft
regardless of nationality (this crucial decision was made in the fifties,
supported by all the unions, the employers associations and the political
parties), and on the other, the dominance of the ethnic concept in
German nationality legislation (jus sanguinis), which results in an
increasing share of the population being excluded from full participation, despite being residents for more than a decade or even born
in Germany. This exclusion doubtless causes obstacles to the integration
of these residents, and calls into question the legitimacy of democratic
representation, since an increasing share of the resident population
remains excluded from voting in elections, even at the community
level.
This ethnic concept of nationality, which emerged in the German
Romantic period, has been thoroughly discussed in recent years. The
German nationality law created in 1913 has recently been evolving
towards a political concept of nationality, expressed in the German
discussion by the term Constitutional Patriotism. In an amendment
in 1993, a legal claim for naturalisation after eight years' residence and
the fulfilment of some other requirements was invented. Before this
amendment, the authorities granted at their discretion naturalisation
applications for foreigners fulfilling the prerequisites. After it, the number
of naturalisations increased (70,000 in 1995), but still did not match
the number of children born as foreign nationals in the same year
(100,000). Although there is a clear majority in the Federal Parliament
for reform of the naturalisation and citizenship legislation, a bill put
forward by the Social Democrat opposition which reflected this majority
position was recently rejected by a majority vote of the governing
coalition due to political tactics for the 1998 federal election campaign.
Apart from the migrant population's lack of legal integration, there
is a considerable inequity in the social situation of the foreign
population in Germany. In 1996, the average unemployment rate of
the total population in Germany was 10.1 %, while the unemployment
rate of the foreign population was 18.9 %. The stagnation in the
labour market (the average rate is currently above 12 %) is strongly
affecting migrant workers, since migrants are usually occupied in
traditional sectors of the economy (VON LOEFFELHOLZ/THRNHARDT,
1996) which are increasingly shrinking. The shortage of apprenticeships
in the German dual system, especially, raises serious problems for the
integration of second generation youth into the labour market and
German society, although there are a lot of programmes funded by the
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs targeted at these young people.

MINORITIES, POLICIES AND STRATEGIES IN EUROPE: GERMANY

55

This risk of the formation of a permanent underclass out of the


migrant population and their descendants raises the danger of increasing
social conflict. It might result in an ethnicisation of this conflict,
especially in the case of the large Turkish minority. A sound policy
targeted at the integration of former migrants and their children into
German society is urgently needed. The experiences of classical
countries of immigration show that this policy should aim at overcoming
social inequality along ethnic lines and should offer support for the
second generation, based on individual criteria, not ethnicity. It should
provide opportunities for integration into the receiving society, especially
by facilitating naturalisation and by including elements of jus soli; for
example, granting German citizenship automatically upon birth and
accepting dual citizenship until adulthood. It should consequently fight
xenophobic populism, present not only on the extreme right wing, and
it should support integration by factual and symbolic expressions of
willingness to integrate these German residents. Further, it should also
require the countries of origin to release these migrants and their
descendants, and not to contribute to segregation due to political or
economic reasons.
Any progress in this respect is very unlikely in 1998. On the
contrary, one has to expect some polarisation during the federal
election campaign until September 1998. Germany can still be seen as
a reluctant land of immigration (MARTIN, 1993), refusing to deal
properly with the consequences of the massive immigration during
recent decades. The growing consciousness that integrating the
migrant population is important for the peaceful and prosperous future
of German society is still not resulting in serious political action. But in
the long run, there is no real alternative.
References
BOSSWICK, W. (1997): Asylum policy in Germany. In: Exclusion and inclusion
of refugees in contemporary Europe. Ed. P. MUUS. ERCOMER, Utrecht.
HECKMANN, F. (1992): Ethnische Minderheiten, Volk und Nation. Enke,
Stuttgart.
HECKMANN, F. (1998): Einwanderungsgesellschaft Deutschland: Chancen und
Risiken. Deutscher Bundestag, Enquetekommission Demographischer
Wandel, Bonn.
LEDERER, H. (1997): Migration und Integration in Zahlen. Ein Handbuch.
Beauftragte der Bundesregierung fr Auslnderfragen, Bonn.
LEGGEWIE, C. (1992): Der rechte Aufmarsch. In: Angst vor den Deutschen. Ed.
B. NIRUMAND. Rowohlt, Hamburg.

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

VON LOEFFELHOLZ, H. D. / THRNHARDT, D. (1996): Kosten der Nichtintegration


auslndischer Zuwanderer. Ministerium fr Arbeit, Gesundheit und Soziales
des Landes NordrheinWestfalen, Dsseldorf.
MARTIN, P. L. (1993): Germany: reluctant land of immigration. Paper
presented at the conference Controlling Illegal Immigration: A Global
Perspective, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, University of California, San
Diego, March 18-20, 1993.
STEINERT, J.-D. (1995): Migration und Politik. Westdeutschland Europa bersee
19451961. SecoloVerlag, Ulm.

From conflict to harmony: the Greek case


Maria Dikaiou

I would like to start by stating two truisms of general application:


first, the increasing scale of world problems demands a greater
awareness of global interdependence and responsibility; second, as our
European community grows smaller in terms of accessibility and joint
enterprises, the possibility for ethnic conflict increases proportionally.
With these two processes taking place, it appears likely that much of
the conflict in the 1990s in Europe and beyond will involve cultural
diversity at some level, whether the diversity arises from gender, race,
religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, culture, language, or other
factors (MITCHELL, 1991).
1. Introduction
My aim is a) to describe the recent changes and to identify conflict
situations arising from intergroup diversity, one of the most critical
problems facing Greek society today; and b) to identify the conflict
areas most urgently requiring measures in terms of research studies,
policy development and resources.
Conflict may arise out of a variety of contexts in personal,
interpersonal and intergroup relations, leading to various forms of passive
or aggressive behaviours (BROADMAN/HOROWITZ, 1994). Generally
speaking, and except for cases of war and forced expulsion, conflict is
not always a bad thing. Contemporary research shows that conflict
may have positive or negative effects, depending on the issue involved,
the types of groups opposing each other and the specific socio-historical
contexts in which such phenomena take place (BROADMAN/
HOROWITZ, 1994). Within this perspective, it can be the root of personal
and social change or the medium through which problems are solved.

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

The social and scientific issue, therefore, is not how to eliminate


conflict but rather to develop the knowledge that would enable us to
assist human development. Today, issues of constructive vs. destructive
management of conflict situations are discussed much more thoroughly
and there is a tendency to move away from old notions of conflict
resolution to conflict management. Before we can discuss these
issues further, it is important to define the concepts of conflict and
harmony, titled in this presentation.
2. The definition of conflict and harmony
When perceived in a continuum, conflict seems to be the
opposite of harmony; however, looking deeper at the processes involved,
one finds that the two terms are closely interconnected. Conflict
points to macro- and micro-social processes leading to incompatible
activities (DEUTSCH, 1973, p.10), whereas harmony refers to the
outcome of such activities; taken from Greek Pythagorean philosophy,
harmony is used to describe a system of balance, e.g. the
cosmos system where all parts coexist and contribute to each
others existence.
When referred to people, the term harmony is used to describe
agreement reached by people as a result of co-ordinated actions by
different, even opposing, sides. Within this perspective, it seems to me
that what we ought to be discussing is the management of conflict; in
other words, finding ways to handle conflict constructively. Further,
what should concern us is the prevention not necessarily of conflict
itself, but of its destructive expression.
Although many aspects of conflict are still to be investigated,
researchers from social psychology, (DEUTSCH, 1949; JOHNSON/
JOHNSON, 1989), sociology (AVRUCH/BLACK/SCIMECCA, 1991),
economics (SCHELLING, 1960), political science (TOUVAL/ZARTMANN,
1985) and anthropology (GLUCKMAN, 1967), have identified a number
of different factors that influence the development of constructive vs.
destructive forms of conflict as well as its outcomes. These include such
variables as the type of conflict (whether the conflict is over resources,
beliefs, values or the nature of the relationship), the size of conflict, the
individual or group characteristics and type of intergroup diversity. I will
be concerned with intergroup diversity in Greek society because it
contributes to an increase of social incompatibilities between groups,
especially between those formed after the massive migration movements
towards or through Greece.

FROM CONFLICT TO HARMONY: THE GREEK CASE

59

3. Group diversity as the result of demographic changes


In discussing issues of intergroup diversity, Greece is a country of
great interest. Being in the centre of the processes of social change for
the past fifteen years, Greece has become a multicultural carpet of
various ethnic minority groups especially after the recent events in
Eastern Europe which are repatriating to the area of their
designated identity. Since 1989, 60,000 people of Greek origin
(entire families, sometimes communities) from the Soviet Republics of
Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia have migrated to mainland
Greece (VOUTIRA, 1992). Of these, more than 60 % are under the age
of 25. Meanwhile another group, Albanians of Greek origin, have also
entered the country. Although statistics are always questionable, there
are estimates that as many as 150,000 Albanians crossed the border
illegally or legally just after the frontiers were opened.
However, the above groups are not the only foreigners presently
residing in Greece. Another category is that of foreign refugees,
defined by the Greek state as those without blood ties to the Greek
nation. Today it is estimated that as many as 13,000 foreign
migrants are currently arriving in the country each year, of whom up
to 3,500 are characterised as refugees. Like other southern European
states, Greece has permeable borders, across which refugees and
other migrants can travel relatively easily. Since the Greek
government views all foreign refugees as being essentially in transit
to third countries, those unable to resettle are forced to survive
often without formal legal status or government assistance. Most of
the refugees currently in Greece are Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Turkey,
Tamils from Sri Lanka, and asylum seekers from Poland, Lebanon and
many parts of Africa. They are found mainly in Athens but also in
other parts of Greece. The size of the respective groups remains largely
undocumented, and there has been no academic work on their
socio-economic situation.
Such large migration movements have created severe socioeconomic problems for the newcomers as well as for the receiving
country. Besides financial problems, lack of employment and lack of
proper housing, they face difficulties in intergroup relations. What we
witness today, is a dramatic change in intergroup relations. Traditional
values and ideals concerning foreigners are replaced by suspicion,
doubt, fear and hostility. As a result, phenomena of racism and
intergroup conflict are present in everyday life.This situation is further
aggravated by the presence of great numbers of youth working and/or
living on the streets (PINIOU-KALLI et al., 1993). School-age adolescents

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

engage in various activities on the streets: selling small objects, cleaning


windows, shop-lifting and pick-pocketing, prostitution and begging. In
most cases, the minors concerned show particular features of ethnic
origin (Balkan or Gypsies), minority status, poverty, parental deprivation,
lack of schooling and lack of protection by the social welfare system
(DIKAIOU, 1996). These characteristics are similar to those given to the
broad group known worldwide as street children.
Demographic changes as described above do lead to diversity and
social incompatibilities between groups. This again forms the social
background to conflict situations and antisocial phenomena. This is not
to say that diversity (cultural and social) in itself causes conflict. It is
rather the way diversity is perceived and socially constructed within the
dynamics of a particular socio-economic system (LYNCH/MODGIL/
MODGIL, 1992). It is interesting that in this respect Greece seems to be
imitating other European countries with a long tradition of immigration.
The hostility, violence and racism seen in them is now happening in
Greece, though at a different pace and with variations. Do these
features of conflict point to a repetition of trends in other European
countries? And if so, to what extent is the European Community ready
to deal with such commonalities? It is true that greater economic and
political integration in the European Union has opened up new
perspectives for examining social inequalities, differences and similarities
between groups. The question is whether European Community members
are prepared to handle conflict constructively and move towards a
condition of harmony?
If this prospect is at all possible, which seems unlikely, then we are
only beginning to take the first steps. Within the field of Applied Social
Sciences, theorists and practitioners have explored many of the basic
variables and principles which are important to achieving a constructive
resolution to a wide range of social problems. These include school
conflict and violence (JOHNSON/JOHNSON, 1994), homelessness
(HOROWITZ/BOARDMAN/REDLENER, 1994), and organisational conflict
(DONELLON/KOLB, 1994). This research, however, remains primarily
nationally oriented. An opening up has become more apparent in the
past five years or so; ongoing research is showing more signs of furthering
comparative and intercultural perspectives than has been the case for
traditional conflict resolution research where a community of discourse
has yet to be firmly established. As some authors point out, Once
communities of discourse do begin to constitute themselves, they can
generate productive theoretical energy through mutual interrogation of
interpretations and explanations (CHISHOLM/BUCHNER/KRUGER/DU
BOIS-REYMOND, 1995, p.1).

FROM CONFLICT TO HARMONY: THE GREEK CASE

61

Finally, within the field of social policy, things do not look much
better either. While it is now commonly assumed that contemporary
European societies find themselves in a phase of accelerated change,
the processes involved remain very poorly understood, whether in
research or policy terms. These processes tend to be described
theoretically in terms of differences and similarities in life chances and
risks between and within groups in Europe. Often enough this translates
into a rhetoric of equality of opportunity and common interests, and
lack of common understanding and policies which are perceived by
state officials as promoting integration.
The complex intersections between regional, ethnic, social
background and gender differences will play a part in shaping these
processes and will inevitably influence peoples lives and futures
prospects in Europe. In spite of this, we are far from being in a position
to transform and co-ordinate all these factors into coherent steps
towards harmony.

References
AVRUCH, K.; BLACK, P.W.; SCIMECCA, J.A. (Eds.) (1991): Conflict resolution: crosscultural perspectives. Greenwood Press, New York.
BROADMAN, K.S.; HOROWITZ, V.S. (1994): Constructive conflict management
and social problems: an introduction. In: Journal of social issues, 50(1),
p.1-12.
CHISHOLM, L.; BUCHNER, P.; KRUGER, H-H.; DU BOIS-REYMOND, M. (Eds.) (1995):
Growing up in Europe. Contemporary Horizons in Childhood and Youth
Studies. De Gruyter, Berlin/New York.
DEUTSCH, M. (1949): A theory of co-operation and competition. In: Human
relations, 2, p. 129-51.
DEUTSCH, M. (1973): The resolution of conflict : constructive and destructive
processes. Yale University Press, New York.
DIKAIOU, M. (1996) Street children: a psychosocial approach. VIII Panhellenic
Conference on The Child and the Adolescent in the Society of Mass
Communication. Thessaloniki, May, 1996 (in Greek).
DONNELLON, A.; KOLB, D.M. (1994): Constructive for whom? The fate of
diversity disputes in organisations. In Journal of social issues, 50(1), p.
139-156.
GLUCKMAN, M. (1967): Custom and conflict in Africa. Barnes and Noble, New York.
HOROWITZ, S.V.; BOARDMAN, S.K.; REDLENER, I. (1994): Constructive conflict
management and coping in homeless children and adolescents. In Journal
of social issues, 50(1), p. 85-98.
JOHNSON, D.W.; JOHNSON, R. (1989): Cooperation and competition: theory and
research. Interaction Book Company, Edina MN.

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JOHNSON, D.W.; JOHNSON, R.T. (1994): Constructive conflict in schools. In:


Journal of social issues, 50(1), p. 117-138.
LYNCH, J.; MODGIL, C.; MODGIL, S. (eds.) (1992): Cultural diversity in schools.
Prejudice, polemic or progress? The Palmer Press, London/Washington, DC.
MITCHELL, C.R. (1991): Classifying conflicts: asymmetry and resolution. In:
The annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 518,
p. 23-28.
PINIOU-KALLI, M.; NICOLAIDOU, S.; SOTIROPOULOU, M.; PANTAZIS, D. (1993): Street
children in Athens. International Symposium on Children, Sexuality and
Abuse, Athens, June, 1993.
SCHELLING, T.C. (1960): Strategy of conflict. Harvard University Press, Cambridge
MA.
TOUVAL, S.; ZARTMAN, I.W. (1985): International mediation in theory and
practice. Westview, Boulder, CO.
VOUTIRA, E. (1992): Issues of ethnic identity among deported nationalities.
Conference on Nationalism and Identity in the Turkish States. Pembroke
College, University of Cambridge.

Padania resurrected or, how to invent an ethnic identity


in a land with a thousand bell towers
Enzo Pace

1. Ethnic identity as a social construction


Ethnic identity is a social construction. As such, it can often rely on
history, with its long time-scale, to build up a system of symbolic
references broadly shared by groups of people or an entire population.
Yet it may also be invented in what Braudel calls a short breath of
history (BRAUDEL, 1949), to serve exclusively political ends, criticising
or opposing the power system or established institutions. In this case,
ethnic identity appears to an even greater extent to be the product of a
symbolic investment made by collective movements to assert themselves
more effectively in the political market-place. The invention of an
ethnic identity serves to mobilise for collective action; it can produce
the forms and repertoires of mobilisation. This is not to deny ethnicity
its relatively independent status; undoubtedly, it constitutes a system of
identification for the collective consciousness, which endures through
time and marks out a space by making it sacred (TULLIO-ALTAN, 1996).
Nevertheless, in the social phenomenology of movements claiming
ethnicity, we occasionally find cases of pure invention. That is to say, a
system of beliefs has been conjured up for the purpose of creating and
consolidating the sense of belonging to a social and political movement.
The individuals involved would otherwise be drawn together only to
defend their economic interests or by a common sense of grievance
against the powers that be, felt to be inert, corrupt or incapable of
facing the problems of society.
I propose to show very briefly how it is possible to invent an ethnic
identity, taking as my example the case of Lega Nord (the Northern
League). In recent times, the Italian social and political situation has
been greatly affected by the rise of the Northern League, which has for

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

some time been advocating the secession of Northern Italy or Padania,


in the language of League militants from the rest of the country. This
is a movement which grew out of a wave of protest against political
corruption and excessive taxation and gradually changed to become a
political party whose aim is to represent the economic interests and
demands for moral reform of large sections of the population in Northern
Italy (but not only the north). Moreover, it also increasingly claims to
represent the supposed ethnic and cultural differences between the
people of the north and those of the south. As we shall see, these
differences have been consciously constructed by the Leagues leaders,
using a communicative strategy based on several elements:
a) the historical memory of the Northern population with roots in
Celtic civilisation;
b) the evocation of a system of esoteric-religious symbols, including
the River God Po in Latin Padanus flowing through the
great plain the Po valley which stretches from Piemonte to
the Veneto, from its source on Mt. Monviso to its delta south of
Venice; the green star, which represents the edelweiss flower
and dominates the Leagues banners; and the green shirts of the
vigilantes known as the Guardia Padana;
c) the identification of a land sacred to the people of Padania,
bounded by the Alps to the north and the River Po to the south;
and
d) the assertion of a linguistic identity lingua Padana encompassing all the linguistic differences which have historically
separated the inhabitants of regions such as Piemonte, Lombardy,
Veneto and Friuli (with its own language, Furlan).
These claims to ethnicity run counter to the general Italian cultural
and historical picture. Italy is a relatively young nation (1861) whose
path to national identity has been somewhat tortuous (PACE, 1997,
1998; RUSCONI, 1993, 1997; SCHIAVONE, 1998; SCIOLLA, 1997).
Indeed, the centralised state model, based on that of France, has never
been able to rely on the full and convinced adherence of its citizens. In
many ways, Italy has remained faithful to a polycentric model; despite
everything, people have strong links to their local environment. The bell
tower is an effective symbol which portrays the attachment most
Italians feel for their own small town with its church and the inevitable
campanile (bell tower).
The symbolism of the bell tower has several aspects: it reminds us
not only of Catholicism and municipal pride but of the particular type
of economic development in many Northern regions from the seventies

PADANIA RESURRECTED OR, HOW TO INVENT AN ETHNIC IDENTITY IN...

65

to the present day. It could be said that there is a factory for every bell
tower; there is widespread industrialisation based on a network of
small and medium-sized firms not concentrated in the large cities, but
scattered throughout the urbanised countryside (STELLA, 1996).
Significantly perhaps, in May 1997 the bell tower of St. Marks in Venice
was stormed by a group of extremists who had left the Northern
League. It thus became a symbol of ethnic conflict as, with the aid of a
primitive home-made tank, they hoisted the flag of the Serenissima
Venetian Republic in a bid for independence. For some, therefore,
secession from Italy is not enough; only a return to the impossible
splendour of the Doges of Venice will do.
2. The Northern League: from criticism of the centralised state
to ethnic movement
Those who have observed the earthquake-like Northern League
from its inception (BIORCIO, 1997; DIAMANTI, 1993; RUMIZ, 1997)
have pointed out the following important features.
a) The epicentre (1983-87) is the Veneto, a traditionally Catholic
area both in religion and politics (for over forty years, the vast
majority of the inhabitants peaking at 60 % in some places
voted for the Christian Democrat party, the Catholic party which
governed Italy for almost fifty years). This shows the erosion of
the social and cultural basis of consent enjoyed by the Christian
Democrats. Rome has become the symbol of a distant seat of
power whose interests are far removed from those of the
regions. In the early 1980s, two slogans began to be scrawled on
the walls and bridges of Northern cities: Roma ladrona Robber
Rome Roma cancaro dellItalia Rome, cancer of Italy.
b) The tremors later spread to Lombardy (1987-90), where the
movement found its charismatic leader, Umberto Bossi. Bossi
was responsible for the movements fundamental change. It
became a new political force to be reckoned with, and picked
up on three basic grounds for social protest. First, the notion
that Northerners are hard-working and productive whereas
Southerners are work-shy acquired political dignity. Anti-south
feelings became more visible and violent with slogans such as
Come on Etna!, urging on the active volcano in Sicily, which
had destroyed a number of nearby villages in 1987, to wipe out
the whole south (synonymous to Northern Leaguers with the
Mafia and the waste of public money). The second concept was

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

that, instead of money paid in taxes going to Rome to fill the


coffers of the centralised state, it should be handled at a local or
regional level (no taxation without representation). Thirdly, Bossi
was able to tap the considerable moral indignation at political
corruption. The first kickback cases were being brought to justice
around 1989-90. Shortly afterwards, all the major government
parties (from the Christian Democrats to the Socialists) were to
be devastated by the corruption investigations.
c) There was a great swing to the Northern League at the 1992
general election which went beyond the Richter scale (it took up
to 25-30 % of the vote in many areas of the north not so
much in the big cities as in the small towns in the foothills of the
Alps). This success prompted the movement to push for federalism
(without, however, ever clarifying which model of federalism
was being proposed) and later (1996) to go for secession from
the rest of Italy. In September 1996, a very high-profile
demonstration was organised the so-called Marcia sul Po
(March on the River Po) when green-shirted League militants
accompanied their leader from the source of the Po on Mt.
Monviso all the way to Venice. Here Mr. Bossi proclaimed the
independence of the North and Po water taken from the source
was sprinkled over the faithful in a kind of secular benediction.
The Italian flag was then lowered to be replaced by a new one
bearing, against a white background, an odd star-shaped green
flower, which, as some maliciously observed, looked more like a
stylised marijuana leaf than an edelweiss.
To place the emergence of the Northern League in its social and
political context, we should look at the domestic and international
events which so upset the order of things from 1989 to 1992. The fall
of the Berlin Wall produced unexpected consequences in Italy, which
may in some ways be considered a post-communist country (MICHEL,
1996). Naturally, the events of 1989 speeded up the changes in the
Italian Communist Party (one of the largest in Europe with a 25-30 %
share of the vote), turning it into a social democratic party (PDS). But
they also removed from the political system the ideological pole that
opposed the moderate Catholic one which since 18 April 1948 had
held the majority of votes. The ideological war which had for years
divided Italian society into two political subcultures ended in 1989. The
white (Catholic) area was stronger in the north (Piemonte, Lombardy,
Trentino and the Veneto); the red (communist) area was mainly
based around central Italy (Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna)

PADANIA RESURRECTED OR, HOW TO INVENT AN ETHNIC IDENTITY IN...

67

(TRIGILIA, 1981). The Christian Democrat party had held power virtually
uncontested for almost fifty years in the role of defenders of moderate
and Catholic values. Thus, from an ideological viewpoint, the
disappearance of the Communist Party from the political scene and its
transformation into a social democratic party effectively de-legitimised
the Christian Democrats. The political corruption brought to light from
1990 to 1992 by a group of Milan examining magistrates (known in
the mass media as the Clean Hands team) accelerated the end of the
Christian Democrat and Socialist parties, which vanished from the
political scene in the space of two years. This event in itself
demonstrates the sudden and cataclysmic change in the traditional
party system and the emergence of a new political force, the Northern
League, which undertook to fill the vacuum among most of those who
had previously voted Christian Democrat or Socialist.
3. The invention of Padania
Now, therefore, there exists a repertoire of symbols which evoke
the purported ethnic identity of the people of Padania: the population
of the Po valley who supposedly share common Celtic roots, who
speak a language the Italian nation-state allegedly suppresses and who
have purportedly been oppressed by Rome for centuries and can
therefore claim a natural independence from Italy. This set of symbols
has undoubtedly made it possible for the Northern League to strengthen
the ties within the movement, increase its militancy and select a
nucleus of local leaders and militant activists who are firmly convinced
of the cause and vow blind obedience to the leader. In the last general
election (4 April 1994) the League obtained four million votes (10 % of
the Italian electorate) concentrated above all in the north. Its
organisational network consists of about a million militant activists who
can guarantee the mobilisation of the wider ranks of League supporters
for various events such as a mock general election for Padania and
rallies with the charismatic leader, Mr. Bossi.
One of the most recent sociological surveys of League militants
(DIAMANTI/JORI, 1998) demonstrates how successful the operation has
been. There now exists a stratum of League supporters who have
internalised the movements typical ideological features and are
convinced of the idea of secession from the rest of Italy. This is despite
a recent series of arrests regarding the illegality of such a proposal,
which is in any case held up by an attempt to decide on federalist
reforms currently under discussion by a special parliamentary commission.

68

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

At present, the greatest obstacle to the idea of secession is Italys


acceptance into the European Monetary Union (ERM). The Leagues
leaders had been counting on the fact that Italy would be unable to
satisfy the Maastricht criteria. In that case they would have been able
to shout it to the rooftops that the economically backward south had
stopped the modern, industrialised, hardworking north from soaring
independently into Europe.
The striking thing about the type of grass-roots organisation the
League has been able to stimulate is the relative stability of the factors
which account for faith in the League itself. The chart below shows
these factors using different types of arrows, from wide to narrow, to
indicate the importance of the ideological components and the social
variability which comes into play.
Faith in the charismatic leader
Anti-south feelings
low educational level
self-employed or small
businessman

Faith

in

the

League

The chart is based on the following answers (Table 1) to a series of


questions which were asked of a representative sample of the public,
including Veneto League supporters (1,200 subjects were interviewed
by telephone in the second week of March 1998).
As can be seen, the syndrome is one which Adorno (ADORNO, 1950)
would not hesitate to call authoritarian (a strong leader, dislike of the
south, xenophobia, unconfined laissez-faire liberalism, the legitimacy of
tax evasion and so on). Strikingly, on all items (except the issue of
retirement age) the percentages for League supporters attitudes are
considerably higher than those of the average sample; from 13-15 % to
28-29 % higher on issues like capital punishment and dislike of the south.

PADANIA RESURRECTED OR, HOW TO INVENT AN ETHNIC IDENTITY IN...

69

Table 1

Italy is too chaotic, we need a strong


leader
There should be capital punishment
for really serious crimes
Immigrants are a threat
The south is a millstone to Italys
progress
Tax evasion is necessary
Firms should be free to hire and fire
employees

% of League
supporters

% of total
sample (1,200)

78.8

63.2

59.4
45.0

31.6
29.6

55.4
36.2

26.3
21.3

45.2

31.9

The leader of the Northern League has applied a kind of ethnic


prosthesis, as it were, to these social and economic ills. The success of
his preaching in traditionally Catholic and Christian Democrat areas
would suggest that the social strata the League now represents are
undergoing a twofold crisis: as regards traditional party politics, and
the system of values which the parish-based Catholicism of Italy had
passed down from generation to generation. Nowadays, many appear
to be secular in their moral attitudes and their life choices, as well as in
their political leanings. It is no accident that one of the institutions most
strongly opposed to the League is the Catholic Church (PACE, 1997).
The Churchs opposition is not aimed at safeguarding the religious
values it embodies, but at defending national unity. (This is paradoxical
since the Catholic Church refused to recognise the Italian state at the
time of the Risorgimento, considering it an enemy to the Holy See.) The
Church defends national unity because it sees it as a coded symbol of a
collective consciousness which shares the values rooted in Catholic
culture.
The phenomenon of the Northern League has, in fact, shed light
on a number of paradoxes and contradictions. These concern first, the
weak sense of national consciousness which Italians have; second, the
immobility of the previous political system (a democracy which was at a
standstill for years because a shift of power which would let in the
Communist Party was unthinkable); and third, a reversal in the trend
from a country of emigration to one of immigration (without the
immigrants the economic growth of many areas in the north would not
have taken place). These considerations apart, if we take the Northern
League as a case for the interpretative examination of concepts

70

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

concerning ethnic identity (SMITH, 1998), it is clear that such an


identity can be constructed artificially. This may be done by inventing
symbols and a repertoire of collective action which cannot really be
traced back to the long-term existence of a group (whether it be a race
or an ethnic minority) claiming recognition for its own identity and
consequently its own living space.
References
ADORNO, T. et al. (1950): The authoritarian personality, Harper and Row, New
York.
BIORCIO, R. (1997): La Padania promessa, Il Saggiatore, Milan.
BRAUDEL, F. (1949): La Mditerrane et le monde mditerranen, Flammarion,
Paris.
DIAMANTI, I. (1993): La Lega, Donzelli, Rome.
DIAMANTI, I.; JORI, F. (1998): Osservatorio Nordest, in Il Gazzettino, 21
March.
MICHEL, P. (1996): La fede senza nemico, Guerini, Milan.
PACE, E. (1997): La questione nazionale fra Lega e Chiesa cattolica, in Il
Mulino, n. 4.
PACE, E. (1998): La nation italienne en crise, Bayazal, Paris.
RUSCONI, G.E. (1993): Se cessiamo di essere una nazione, Il Mulino, Bologna.
RUSCONI, G.E. (1997): Patria e repubblica, Il Mulino, Bologna.
RUMIZ, P. (1997): La secessione leggera, Rizzoli, Milan.
SCHIAVONE, A. (1998): Italiani senza Italia, Einaudi, Turin.
SCIOLLA, L. (1997): Italiani: stereotipi di casa nostra, Il Mulino, Bologna.
SMITH, A. (1998): Le origini etniche delle nazioni, Il Mulino, Bologna.
STELLA, G.I. (1996): Schei, Baldini e Castoldi, Milan.
TRIGILIA, A. (1981): Le subculture politiche territoriali, Feltrinelli, Milan.
TULLIO-ALTAN, C. (1996): Ethnos e civilt, Feltrinelli, Milan.

Federal Balkania, Kosova Republika


or Balkan meltdown?
Robert C. Hudson

Adem Demaci, the human rights activist and leader of the second
strongest Kosovar1 political party, the Parliamentary Party, addressed his
supporters recently with the rhetorical statement that: We have come
full circle, havent we? This claim is posited upon the generally accepted
belief that the more direct causes of the break up of Yugoslavia can be
traced back to the unrest that broke out in Kosovo in the 1980s, and
that unrest, based upon rival ethnic nationalist tensions in Kosovo, is
once again back on the Yugoslav agenda.
Since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991, there have been
three wars in the former Yugoslavia, taking place in Slovenia, Croatia,
and Bosnia-Herzegovina; with further conflicts situated within each of
these conflicts. At the time of writing (March 1998), there is a strong
possibility that Kosovo will be the scene of a fourth Yugoslav war,
long predicted by many academics, politicians and people in the field.
Should war break out, the prophets of doom believe that it could be
far bloodier and more widespread than its predecessors, given that so
many parties, states and interests could be involved. For the current
tensions in Kosovo affect not only relations between Kosovars and
Serbs, but also relations between a number of other states which have
Albanian minority populations, given that more than half the Albanians
in the region live outside the matrix state of Albania. Reference can be
made to: Macedonia (443,000), Montenegro (50,000), Greece (50,000),
Serbia excluding Kosovo (80,000) and Italy (100,000), to say nothing of
Albania itself (3,000,000). Thus there is a variety of tensions and links
between these states, with the potential for future alliances between

Kosovar is used to refer to ethnic Albanian residents of Kosovo.

72

CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

Serbia and Macedonia, or between Albania and the Kosovars, and


concomitant with this, the potential background tensions between
Greece and Macedonia, Greece and Turkey, Turkey and Bulgaria, and
Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. Given all these factors, we could witness the
outbreak of an all-out Balkan war, which could have a greater impact
upon European security and stability in South-eastern Europe than has
been caused by any of the earlier Yugoslav wars.
For most Serbs, Kosovo is acknowledged as being the cradle of
Serbian civilisation and ethnic identity, mainly because of the vast
mythology that has been built around it concerning the battle of
Kosovo fought between Serbs and the Ottoman Turks in 1389. Besides
this, the region contains important Serbian Orthodox religious sites,
while Pristina was a major (Serbian) city during the reign of the great
Serbian medieval emperor, Stefan Dusan. The myth of the battle of
Kosovo became central to the whole canon of Serbian literature from
the 16th century and has been interpreted as sacred to the cause of
Serbian extremist national identity, reinforced by nationalist awakeners
such as the language reformer Vuk Karadz ic. The impact of myth upon
the Serbian ethnic nationalist discourse should not be ignored; the
Serbian academician Antonije Isakovic wrote in 1992 that:
Our myths give us greater strength and we must live with them.
Each time that we have been faced with difficulties, we have returned
to Kosovo, to Karadjorde and to popular poetry. These myths and all
our mythology, which affect our intellectuals as much as our Church,
take us down a fairly narrow corridor (ISAKOVIC, 1992).

Furthermore the Serbian ethnologist, Ivan Colovic, has emphasised


in his recent publication, Bordel ratnika (The warrior's brothel), that:
Nas a politika puna je folklorika... (Our politics is full of folklore)
(COLOVIC, 1994, 23). Taking up the mantle of nationalist discourse in
1987, Slobodan Milos evic exclaimed that: Yugoslavia does not exist
without Kosovo! Yugoslavia would disintegrate without Kosovo!
Yugoslavia and Serbia are not going to give up Kosovo!
Despite this, the two million Kosovar population makes up approximately 92 % of the total population of Kosovo. Under Tito, Kosovo
and Vojvodina were granted greater autonomous status by the Yugoslav
constitution of 1974, with considerable political power and near
equality with the six republics that made up the Socialist Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (Socijalistic ka Federativna Republika Jugoslavija
or SFRJ). This led to bitter condemnation as the Serbian nationalist
discourse developed from the mid-1980s. (See for example the Memorandum issued by the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, Belgrade,

FEDERAL BALKANIA, KOSOVO REPUBLIKA OR BALKAN MELTDOWN?

73

1986, which advocated the belief that Yugoslavia could only be strong
if Serbia was kept weak.)
The autonomous status of both Kosovo and Vojvodina was ended
by President Slobodan Milos evic in 1989, since when, the Kosovo
Albanians have been ...oppressed, humiliated, and deprived of any
vestige of control over their own affairs...[and]...turned into non-persons
in their own homeland (WOOLLACOTT, 1998). Meanwhile, an exclusive
Serbian state structure was grafted on to an Albanian society, with the
practice of an ethnic apartheid that, until the events in Croatia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina in recent years, would have seemed unimaginable
in modern Europe. As a result, Kosovars have been denied rights to
their own educational institutions and medical facilities in their own
land (IGRIC, 1997). After ending the autonomous status of Kosovo,
one of the first acts of Milos evic 's government was to end all teaching
in Albanian, replacing Albanian by Serbian and insisting upon the use
of the cyrillic alphabet. The role of language cleavage and language
politics is of vital importance in the political discourse of ethnic exclusion
and national identity, since it provides the legitimisation of a
communitys culture and history, thus leading to the creation of an in
group and an out group. Furthermore, national languages provide
in themselves the symbols of sovereignty; the propagation of one
language to the detriment of another serves as an instrument of the
hegemonistic power politics of a nation-state. In the case of Kosovo
the Kosovars form the out group and the Serbs the in group,
despite the fact that the Serbs comprise only between 7 and 8 % of
the population. Since language is one of the most profound expressions
of ethnic national identity, it is not surprising that the struggle for rights
to their own education in the Albanian language has been one of the
key issues in the Kosovars' passive resistance against the Serbs; a
passive resistance which had to be carried out underground until 1996.
In the meantime, throughout the events of 1991 the Albanians of
Kosovo and Macedonia did not try to secede and form a separate state
or unite with Albania, while the Albanian government in Tirana also
remained passive (TROEBST, 1997, 24). It could be argued that the
Kosovars had missed their moment in history at the time when
Slovenes, Croats, Bosnians and Macedonians seceded from Yugoslavia.
The Serbian authorities' total disregard for the rights of ethnic
minorities, and the massive and arbitrary police repression and violence
against the Kosovars, also stem from the lack of any civic society and
democratic culture in Yugoslavia. Ultimately, healthily functioning
democratic institutions are needed if ethnic disputes are to be resolved
(SCHMIDT, 1997, 18). Fabian Schmidt has even argued that the issue of

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

the Kosovo conflict is not just the absence of self rule, but the absence
of any rule of law, thus firmly situating the current situation in Kosovo
in the problematics of the ongoing debate of the failed state, posited
upon the absence of both a civic society and democratic process in the
the region (see GELLNER, 1994, and also the discourse on High Trust
Societies and Low Trust Societies recently developed and highlighted
by FUKUYAMA, 1996).
Thus once again Yugoslavia has been transmogrified into the pariah
state of Europe, and again there have been threats of sanctions and
even of intervention by the international community. Nevertheless, not
only the Yugoslav government is to blame for the situation in Kosovo.
Previously the international community did nothing about the Kosovars
situation, apart from refusing Yugoslavia access to IMF funding in the
period, post sanctions, when its own economy and infrastructure
critically need redeveloping.
The plight of the Kosovars was not even mentioned by Lord
Carrington at the first international conference on Yugoslavia in Brussels
in 1990. Their sufferings went unheard, as Ibrahim Rugova, leader of
the LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo), activated a non-violent
campaign, effectively establishing a shadow Kosovar Parliament,
University and other institutions. It almost seemed as though Western
governments had appreciated and benefited from the Kosovars
patience, because it allowed them to keep the Kosovo issue out of the
negotiations over Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, thus making it
easier for Milos evic to sign the Dayton agreement (SCHMIDT, 1997,
17), whilst creating a better opportunity of bringing the fighting in
Bosnia-Herzegovina to an end. Consequently LDK representatives were
not present at Dayton, Ohio, nor was the Kosovo problem mentioned
in the treaty (TROEBST, 1997, 25). As Miranda Vickers recently pointed
out:
The single most important message the Kosovars have learnt from
Dayton was that it gave value to the armed struggle of the Bosnian
Serbs by recognising, even if only partly, the Serb Republic of Bosnia
(VICKERS, 1998).

Tensions began to erupt again almost immediately after Dayton.


Support for the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) has grown since April
1996; it has been armed by Albania and Kosovar and Albanian migrants
in Switzerland, and has carried out assassinations of Serbian police,
army officers and Albanian collaborators. The increase in armaments
smuggled to Kosovo from Albania was particularly noticeable after the
chaos that arose in Albania during the summer 1997 elections.

FEDERAL BALKANIA, KOSOVO REPUBLIKA OR BALKAN MELTDOWN?

75

As for the Serbs in Kosovo, they witnessed what had happened in


the Krajina in August 1995, when Milos evic refused to lend Yugoslav
support to the Krajina Serbs in the face of the Croatians Operation
Storm (Oluja). Likewise they saw the cooling of relations between
Milos evic and Karadz ic throughout 1994 and 1995, and as recently as
March 1998 the Yugoslav media was full of reports about the plight of
Serbian refugees from eastern Slavonia in the wake of the reintegration
of Vukovar into the Republic of Croatia, whilst the government internet
press organ Yugoslav Daily News remained silent on the repression
taking place in Kosovo.
Meanwhile, in August 1996, the Chetnik leader and accused war
criminal Zeljko Raznatovic , also known as Arkan, began to infiltrate his
Tiger paramilitaries into the region. Herein lies a problem for Milosevic.
Can he control these paramilitaries, who have different leaders,
different chains of command and are not a constituent part of the
Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija or JNA).
At the same time, the ever pragmatic Milos evic had been trying to
win support from the United States and other governments by opening
discussions with Rugova on the educational issue in September 1996,
which would result in an agreement that would bring the shadow
Albanian education system back into the open. This agreement was a
bid to bring about the lifting of the so-called outer wall of sanctions, a
remnant of the Dayton Peace Agreement, whereby the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia would be able to join international organisations
such as the OSCE and the UN (IGRIC, 1998, 19), thus ending its
exclusion from the international community. At a time when Serbian
public opinion remained strongly opposed to Albanian separatism,
Milos evic offered to negotiate over the re-establishment of Kosovos
autonomy within Serbia. In a bid to gain some political kudos, Milos evic s
key opponents, the liberal leaders of the Zajedno (Togetherness)
Bojkot, Vuk Dras kovic of the Serbian Restoration Movement (Srpski
Pokret Obnove or SPO) and Zoran Djindjic of the Democratic Party
(Demokratska Stranka or DS) criticised him for this, suggesting that
Milos evic was willing to give Kosovo away. It was only at a press
conference in Vienna on 27 January 1997, that Djindjic for the first
time intimated that he might favour autonomy within a democratic
Serbia for Kosovo (SCHMIDT, 1997, 16). For the short term, international
attention was left with the impression that Serbian liberal opposition to
Milos evic appeared to be even more nationalistic than Milos evic
himself. This strange scenario might explain to some extent why the
Kosovar elite remained silent during the mass demonstrations against
Milos evic that began in November 1996 in Belgrade and other major

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

towns throughout Serbia (TROEBST, 1997, 23), whilst during the three
rounds of presidential elections last autumn the Kosovars refused to
vote, showing that they did not recognise the Yugoslav state. Of the
other Serbian political parties, the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)
had taken the view that Serbia is an indivisible state organised on civic
principles, but would now seem to be open to some limited form of
autonomy. Meanwhile nationalist extremists gathered around Vojislav
Ses eljs ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party (Srpska Radikalna Stranka
or SRS) continue to oppose any form of autonomy. Ses elj won the
majority vote of 49 % in the second round of the Serbian presidential
elections in October 1997, and was only precluded from coming to power
by the rule that the winning candidate must have a clear 51 % majority.
Meanwhile, Aleksander Despic , president of the Serbian Academy
of Arts and Sciences, advocated the division of Kosovo, based upon an
earlier idea expressed by the novelist, academic and former president
of Serbia, Dobrica Cosic , that the Serbs should keep the coal mines
and the sacred sites so important to Serbian ethnic identity and the
Yugoslav economy, whilst granting autonomous status for the rest of
the region to the Kosovars. If Kosovo were to be granted some degree
of autonomy, which is the minimum that might stop conflict, it might
also bring down the man who came to power on the strength of his
promises that he would never abandon Kosovo, a place that is so
sacred to the nationalist mythology of Serbian identity. Nevertheless,
Milos evic is faced with an impasse since the risk of yet another lengthy
war and its concomitant economic sanctions could also end his career.
Scenarios and possible solutions
What then are the scenarios and possible solutions to the Kosovo
crisis in the foreseeable future?
One solution to the problem might be for the Yugoslav
government to grant autonomy to the Kosovars; not unlike Titos
constitution of 1974. However, it could be argued that if
Milos evic made such an offer, the Kosovars would reject it.
Furthermore this was offered once before in 1974 and then
annulled by Milos evic in 1989, and the Kosovars are very much
aware that the same could happen again.
Another solution might be the setting up of a new federal
Yugoslav constitution that would give Kosovo and probably the
other minority regions of Sandjak and Vojvodina an equal constitutional status to that of Serbia and Montenegro (MARKOTITCH,

FEDERAL BALKANIA, KOSOVO REPUBLIKA OR BALKAN MELTDOWN?

77

1997, 43), thus reducing Serb domination of the Federal


Republic of Yugoslavia.
Adem Demaci has put forward the idea of creating a new state
called Balkania. Once again this would entail the end of
Serbian hegemony in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with
the additional point of avoiding any reference to any form of
Slav identity; being a federal construct whereby Kosovo,
Vojvodina and possibly Sandjak would share equal republican
status with Montenegro and Serbia. This would mean a
profound restructuring of Yugoslavia, based upon raison dtat
rather than upon nationalism and the politics of exclusion.
Some Serb academics, led by Despic and Cosic , have advocated
the partition of Kosovo along ethnic, religious, historical and
geo-economic lines. However, the handing over of some of the
most sacred sites of Serbdom would be seen as treason and a
national shame, especially to Ses eljs ultra-nationalist SRS party.
Meanwhile the LDK has advocated a Kosova Republika since
1990, which could lead to unification with the Albanian
population of western Macedonia (443,000) or with the matrix
state of Albania; leading to the creation of an Albania irredenta
which might soothe the Albanian Problem, unresolved since
1912, from an Albanian perspective, but would hardly be
popular in Serbia, and would lead to further tensions if not the
outbreak of war.
Another solution might be to resort to peace enforcement
policies by the international community, with intervention by
SFOR (Stabilisation Force), given that there are 20,000 troops
only 150 km from Kosovo and a further 1,100 UN troops based
in Macedonia. However, this would be a short-termist policy and
would not be easy to introduce because it would mean keeping
the Albanians and the Serbs together. Had such a policy been
desired by the two factions, there would have been no risk of
conflict in the first place. If NATO troops were deployed in the
region they could seal the border and safeguard domestic security.
There are nevertheless risks of mission creep and also of lack
of inter-governmental commitment to such a policy. One has
only to think of what might happen in Bosnia-Herzegovina when
SFOR eventually pulls out. Furthermore the Yugoslavs currently
resist the idea of international intervention in Kosovo (see
Yugoslav Daily News, 20 April 1998).
A more drastic solution might be for the KLA to carry out an
armed uprising, since there are enough smuggled light weapons

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

in the region, and the insurgents might be able to survive a


Serbian offensive long enough to ignite external support. However,
this would be a highly dangerous alternative which could
detonate the so-called Balkan time-bomb.
It is unlikely that Albania, given its poor military resources, would
declare war on Yugoslavia; however, if there were a conflict in
Kosovo, the Kosovars might seek military support in the Islamic
world and Turkey.
However, if there were to be warfare between Albanian insurgents
and Serbian security forces, what would be the reaction of Serbian
public opinion? Could Serbia, economically and militarily, endure
yet another war? If this led to sanctions from the international
community it would cripple once again a very weak economy.
Realpolitik might opt for this option in the long term because it
would topple Milos evic from power, although it would be better,
in the medium term, if Milos evic granted autonomy as this could
equally loosen his hold on power.
There are the domino theories mentioned above, which could
result in the outbreak of a general Balkan war, involving Albania,
Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey and ultimately one or more
of the superpowers.
One could always maintain the status quo, but recent events
have militated against such an option.
Having considered the variety of potential senarios and possible
solutions, ultimately a return to the autonomous status of 1974 might
be the easiest to achieve. The refederalisation of Yugoslavia would
seem to be the preferable solution, since potential conflict in Kosovo
would be defused, along with tensions in the Sandjak; and Serb
dominance over Yugoslavia would be counterbalanced.
References
COLOVIC, I. (1994): Bordel ratnika, Biblioteka XX Vek, Belgrade.
FUKUYAMA, F. (1996): Trust: the social virtues and the creation of prosperity.
Penguin, Harmondsworth.
GELLNER, E. (1994): Civil society, Penguin, Harmondsworth.
IGRIC, G. (1997): Education is the key in Serb-Kosovar negotiations,
Transition, 7 March.
ISAKOVIC, A. (1992): Srbi u tesnom hodniku, NIN, Belgrade, 8 May 1992, trans.:
Robert Hudson.
MARKOTITCH, S. (1997): Backtracking toward dictatorship in Serbia and
Montenegro, Transition, 7 February.

FEDERAL BALKANIA, KOSOVO REPUBLIKA OR BALKAN MELTDOWN?

79

SCHMIDT, F. (1997): Protests in Serbia raise hopes of a reconciliation in Kosovo,


Transition, 7 March.
TROEBST, S. (1997): Still looking for an answer to the Albanian question,
Transition, 7 March.
VICKERS, M. (1998): A history of Kosovo, C. Hurst & Co., London.
WOOLLACOTT, M. (1988): Balkan trilogy: the sequel, The Guardian, 7 March.
YUGOSLAV DAILY NEWS (1998): website: http://www.yugoslavia,com./News...

The Northern Ireland case: intercommunal talks


and the re-negotiation of identity
Stephen Ryan

In this short paper I shall do no more than offer some disconnected


observations on the attempts to move away from violent intercommunal
conflict in Northern Ireland. I shall not provide a history of the Troubles,
which has been more than adequately provided elsewhere. Instead, I
offer four points that I hope will help to illuminate the nature of the
peace process there.
(1) Firstly, I would like to disagree with the title of the session for
which this paper was prepared: From Conflict to Harmony. The idea
that you can create a harmonious multi-cultural society seems to me to
be misguided, if by harmony is meant an absence of conflict. Banks
(1987) has pointed out that the attempt to define peace as harmony is
a self-indulgent diversion, since conflict is inevitable in situations
where people have different values, beliefs and interests. In fact,
conflict may even be a sign of a healthy society as long as it is dealt
with in a constructive rather than a destructive manner. Furthermore,
the process of conflict transformation is an ongoing one, since it is
likely that when some conflicts are resolved others may be created. I
also recall a comment by the Israeli writer Amos Oz, who once stated
that what he wanted Jewish and Palestinian leaders to do was to
make peace not love (in ROTHMAN, 1992, 32).
Yet we should beware lest we think that the practical activity of
building peace only involves pragmatic accommodation and technical
issues relating to constitutional provisions and the sharing of political and
economic power. For what I want to raise for discussion is the possibility
that sometimes these intercommunal talks are so difficult and slow
because implicit in them is a fundamental re-negotiation of identity that
may be required before peace agreements can become self-sustaining. For
such talks raise issues of self-definition and involve the breaking of taboos.

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(2) Northern Ireland is at a point in the conflict cycle that many


other protracted social conflicts have now reached. This is where the
parties have come to a realisation that the fighting must stop, but are
unsure about how to rebuild peaceful and democratic multi-cultural
societies. This is what the UN has labelled the post-conflict peacebuilding
stage, a phrase I do not like because, of course, the conflicts are
continuing even if the guns have been silenced. Other states grappling
with the problems that this stage of the conflict presents include South
Africa, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, El
Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
In all or most of these cases similar problems are arising: economic
reconstruction or development, political reconstruction and participation,
policing, the administration of justice, the return of refugees and
internally displaced persons, and how to come to terms with the past
and neutralise history. It is my experience that many significant
actors in these conflicts are willing to learn from each other about how
to move forward. Politicians in Northern Ireland, for example, have
made visits to South Africa to talk with their counterparts. In the case
of the conflict in Northern Ireland this has also involved some degree of
redefinition of the conflict. For what was once seen by many as an
anachronistic affair, rooted in the European wars of religion in the
seventeenth century, has now become a conflict full of relevance in a
contemporary world where most of the significant wars are identity
conflicts.
(3) Many in Northern Ireland have recognised the futility of violence,
believing it to be counterproductive. Furthermore, the general shape of
a political agreement is already there, involving the creation of a new
Northern Ireland Assembly, elected through a proportional representation
system; the creation of some cross-border institutions; and, perhaps, a
rewording of Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution which make a
territorial claim to Northern Ireland. This sort of proposal would
probably win the consent of the majority in Northern Ireland, though it
has to be said that opinion polls here are not always accurate: people
living in a sectarian society often learn to hide their true feelings and
tell questioners what they believe they want to hear rather than what
they truly believe. They seem to agree with the Nobel prize-winner
Seamus Heaney, himself from Northern Ireland, who once commented:
whatever you say, say nothing. Nonetheless, most people do seem
willing to accept an agreement along the lines outlined above.
Yet there are still problems in moving the peace process forward,
and I would like to offer some explanations of why this is the case.
First, the conflict in Northern Ireland is what conflict researchers have

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called a real conflict, rather than an unreal one rooted in misunderstandings and misperceptions. At the root of the conflict is a
disagreement about the legitimacy of the partition of the island of
Ireland at the start of the 1920s. Hence today there is still fundamental
disagreement about whether Northern Ireland should be part of the
sovereign territory of the United Kingdom or the sovereign territory of
the Republic of Ireland. The situation in Northern Ireland, therefore, is
not like South Africa, where the majority of South Africans accept the
legitimacy of the state boundaries (with the possible exceptions of the
white far right and the Inkatha Freedom Party). The problem with the
territorial/ sovereignty conflicts found in places like Northern Ireland
(and, for example, Sri Lanka) is that they are notoriously difficult to
resolve because they tend to be defined in a zero-sum manner.
This should warn us not to over-subjectivise the conflict (see, for
example, RUANNE/TODD, 1991). However, this does not mean that
there are no subjective factors at all and that inter-subjective dialogue
is worthless. Much, though, depends on the level at which this
dialogue takes places. For in any inter-communal conflict there are at
least two levels of interaction: the me-you level and the us-them level.
The social psychology literature suggests that the us-them axis is usually
too powerful for the me-you level and therefore little movement can
take place at the individual level unless the inter-group dialogue is also
progressing (see HEWSTONE/BROWN, 1986). One of the factors that
inhibits this inter-communal dialogue in Northern Ireland is that one
way the people cope with the conflict is to avoid the discussion of
controversial issues such as politics and religion in mixed company. It
can, therefore, be difficult to provoke an open and honest us-them
dialogue.
A second inhibiting factor on the peace process is the legacy of
twenty-five years of violent conflict. This has reinforced or triggered a
whole series of destructive processes that inhibit intercommunal dialogue.
These include: militarisation and warlordism; residential segregation as
people move to mono-cultural areas where they feel safer; the
construction of an enemy image based on stereotyping, dehumanisation
and scapegoating; demonisation and sanctification (which exists when
one or more of the parties sees the conflict in religious terms as a battle
between good and evil); entrapment; economic underdevelopment;
and alienation and a sense of remoteness from power (see RYAN, 1996).
A third problem for the peace process is the lack of intra-party
consensus. This means that the more progressive element in each
community may be frightened of moving too far in case they are
accused of selling out by other groups on their own side less

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committed to a negotiated settlement. Some analysts have labelled this


a problem of ethnic outbidding. A fourth factor is that there has
been an inability or an unwillingness to exert leverage on certain actors
to push forward the peace process. This has meant that the talks have
stalled on several occasions and have become bogged down on
procedural issues at other times. A fifth factor is that of political
underdevelopment. Since the closure of Stormont in 1972 Northern
Ireland has been ruled by a Secretary of State appointed by the
government in London that will represent a political party (Labour or
Conservative) with very little support in the province itself. This
democratic deficit means that all the major political parties have
become opposition parties and so none have had to take political
responsibility for governance. This promotes an attitude of opposition
and criticism rather than an attitude of political compromise and
negotiation.
A final explanation for the slow rate of progress in the Northern
Ireland peace process is the claim that the costs of violence there have
been too low. This is the acceptable level of violence argument, the
idea that although there is a stalemate it does not hurt enough to force
the parties to accelerate the move to peace and justice. Many seem
more comfortable with the status quo than with the situation that
could arise from compromise and concession. Of course this acceptable
level argument could be overstated. Over three thousand people have
been killed in Northern Ireland and this represents a sizeable proportion
of the total population of about 1.5 million. Nonetheless, it cannot be
denied that many in the province can lead relatively normal lives,
largely untouched by the violence.
(4) Finally, I would agree with the other contributors to this book
who argue that many of the other paper givers at this conference that
identity can be fluid and dynamic. It is also possible to carry multiple
identities (Scottish and British, Basque and Spanish and so on). However,
in situations of violence moments of truth may occur where people have
to chose what their terminal loyalty is. Also, identities do tend to
become fixed in situations of violent conflict, where the options
available tend to narrow. Increased insecurity tends to produce
increased ethnocentrism and a reduced tolerance of dissent (DEUTSCH,
1991). One recalls the comment of a Belfast man who once claimed
that it was easier to fire bullets at the other side than to fire questions at
his own community. Pressures to conform become intense and are felt
by all members of a community. One of the best studies of this is the
book Balkan Express, written by the Croatian poet Slavenka Drakulic.
Here she explores how she is forced to play the cruel and self-

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perpetuating game of nationalism even against her better judgement


and resents being pinned against the wall of Croatian nationalism.
Yet although one has seen this simplifying process operating in
Northern Ireland it may be that a situation is emerging where identities
are being re-thought. This may be one reason why the talks process has
been so difficult, for the parties are not just trying to answer technical
issues about the nature of proportional representation and so on; they
are, in a fundamental way, renegotiating their identity.
Crudely put, what seems to be happening is the following. The
majority Protestant community, that defines itself as British, is finding
itself more and more alienated from London. The Downing Street
Declaration of 1993 and the Framework Document of the following
year make it clear that the British state will only keep its sovereignty
over Northern Ireland as long as the majority of people want this to be
the case. There is, therefore, a conditionality to their Britishness that
many Protestants must find unnerving. Furthermore, as the Irish state
modernises, the old self-image of Protestants as the progressive and
modernising force on the island compared to the backward natives is
harder to sustain and many Protestant businessmen are now recognising
the advantage of the whole island economy approach.
For republicans in Northern Ireland, their self-image has drawn on
one of the most powerful discourses of the twentieth century that of
colonisation, settlement, expropriation of land and wealth, oppression
and resistance though nationalism and appeals to the right of selfdetermination. Yet it must be questioned if this discourse has the same
relevance in Ireland as the twenty-first century looms. We have noted
that the colonial power has expressed a willingness to leave under
certain conditions. The status of Catholics has improved enormously
during the past twenty-five years and their rights are now better
protected. Furthermore, the colonial argument ignores the fact that
Northern Ireland is also an integral part of the UK, and this has had an
effect on local culture and local identity. Many middle class Catholics,
for example, would have much to lose if the ties with the British
exchequer were severed tomorrow. So their desire to reach a united
Ireland is similar to their wish to enter heaven: they want to get there,
but not yet. The Europeanisation of Ireland, North and South, through
Irish and British membership of the European Union may also be
undermining the old conflict formations. What is the imagined
community in a globalising world? It is also interesting to note how
the anti-colonial discourse is now in decline at the global level, and is
being replaced by a discourse based around the concept of ethnic
conflict which focuses more on internal problems than external ones.

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This identities may be changing, though this is not a quick or easy


process. My major worry, however, is that these identities are changing
in a monologic rather than dialogic way and that much more needs to
be done to replace the intercommunal silence with genuine inter-cultural
dialogue. This deconstruction of exclusive and antagonistic identities may
be the best hope for long-term peace in Northern Ireland.
References
BANKS, M. (1987): Four conceptions of peace. In: Conflict management and
problem solving, ed. D. Sandole and I. Sandole-Staroste, Pinter, London.
DEUTSCH, M. (1991): Subjective features of conflict resolution. In: New
directions in conflict theory, ed. R. Vayrynen, Sage, London.
DRAHULIC, S. (1993): Balkan Express, Hutchinson, London.
HEWSTONE, M.; BROWN, R. (eds.) (1986): Contact and conflict in intergroup
encounters, Blackwell, Oxford.
ROTHMAN, J. (1992): From confrontation to cooperation, Sage, London.
RUANNE, J.; TODD, J. (1991): Why can't you get along with each other?
Culture, structure and the Northern Ireland conflict. In: Culture and
politics in Northern Ireland, ed. E. Hughes, Open University Press,
Buckingham.
RYAN, S. (1996): The voice of sanity getting hoarse? Destructive processes in
violent intercommunal conflict. In: The politics of difference, ed. E.N.
Wilmsen and P. McAllister, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Negotiating identities in a diasporic context:


the Pakistani population of Bradford
Charles Husband

1. Background
Europe has become an increasingly multi-cultural space and there is
a considerable literature exploring the variety of responses to the
growing ethnic diversity of nation states (WRENCH/SOLOMOS, 1993;
HECKMANN/BOSSWICK, 1995). And the theoretical ferment generated
by post-modernist arguments has been reflected in an increasingly
complex analysis of ethnic identities; with notions of hybridity and
diasporic relations enjoying almost a vogue status (RADHAKRISHNAN,
1996; WERBNER/MODOOD, 1997; YOUNG, 1995). At the same time
the role of communications systems and mass media in shaping
identities and constructing values has been framed within a theoretical
debate regarding the role of globalisation (ROBERTSON, 1992;
HANNERZ, 1996; FEATHERSTONE, 1995), with an increasing recognition
of the complex cultural and psychological geography of Diaspora
(BRAH, 1996; LAVIE/SWEDENBURG, 1996). All of these phenomena,
and the related theoretical debates, form the broad framework for this
paper.
In Britain the development of minority ethnic communities has
been well charted, most recently by MODOOD et al. (1997) and there is
an extensive background literature. The role of the media in shaping
ethnic relations and being part of a process of minority cultural and
political mobilisation has been a small sub-set of this field. From the
initial major study of Hartmann and Husband (HARTMANN/HUSBAND,
1974) there has been an active process of academic analysis of
mainstream media content and its role in representing minority ethnic
communities (VAN DIJK, 1991; ROSS, 1996; SREBERNY-MOHAMMADI/
ROSS, 1995; DOWNING/HUSBAND, forthcoming). There is an emerging

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literature on minority ethnic communities production and consumption


of media (HUSBAND, 1994; GILLESPIE, 1995; COTTLE, 1997).
In formulating the research reported here1 we were very conscious of
the growing Islamophobia that has been apparent within the European
Union and within Britain. Muslim communities in Britain were subjected to
critical media coverage in response to the Rushdie affair and the Gulf
War, and the role of religion as a marker of minority identity has become
an increasingly important issue in contemporary Britain (LEWIS, 1994). The
location of Muslim communities in Britain may itself be analysed in
relation to a wider debate around the position of Islam in the late
twentieth century world (AHMED, 1992; TURNER, 1994). Thus in this
research we focused upon two Muslim communities, the Pakistanis in
Bradford and the Iranians in London, who have experienced very different
routes to settlement in Britain and have different national and cultural
roots: to use terms developed by GILROY (1993). This paper will focus
particularly upon the experience of the Pakistani population of Bradford.
The overarching objective of the research was to chart the media
environment of two Muslim communities in Britain and to place this in
a dynamic understanding of the local demography and the communities'
involvement in cultural, political and economic flows at the local, national
and global level. In doing this we were very aware of the problematic
nature of the concept of community in analysing multi-ethnic urban
Britain (HUSBAND, 1996).
The first tactical objective was to generate a descriptive model of
the current demography of these two communities. It was important
to be able to establish the existence of Iranian and Pakistani populations
within, respectively, London and Bradford, as both demographic
patterns and subjective communities. These were very different tasks in
the two locations. The Iranian population was very nearly undocumented
whereas the Pakistani population of Bradford is very well documented
by the local authority and has been extensively researched. Through a
variety of approaches we have been able to generate a descriptive
account of the demography of the very dispersed Iranian population in
London and have identified the subjective networks of identity which
are threaded through this spatially dislocated population; whilst in
Bradford, given the available documentation, it was possible to construct
1 This research was funded as a project within the ESRC Research Program on Media
Economics and Media Culture. The project team were Professor Charles Husband and
Dr Yunas Samad (Ethnicity and Social Policy Research Unit, Bradford University), and
Professor Annabelle Sreberny and Mr Adom Sabondchian (Centre for Mass
Communication Research, University of Leicester).

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89

a very detailed picture of the demographic distribution of the Pakistani


population and to identify the well developed patterns of social organisation
operating within this demographic profile.
However, a demographic profile in itself offers only a relatively static
and sterile model of each population; consequently, a complementary
task required us to generate a rich social and cultural understanding of
the history of migration and settlement of each population, and of their
socio-cultural and political profile within their respective urban settings.
In order to advance the project it was necessary to generate a descriptive
account of the media environment of each population. This objective
was defined in terms of charting the current media infrastructure
rather than attempting, at this stage, any measure of media utilisation.
In addressing this objective the team went beyond identifying print and
broadcast media, and also identified other significant sites of cultural
reproduction and social interaction. Again, for the two research
populations this was a very different process, with the Pakistani
population in Bradford having a much more diverse and extensive media
environment than that operating for the Iranian population in London.
A core objective of the project was to generate a dynamic account
of individuals behaviour within their social context and media
environment as they sustain their identities and locate themselves within
a diasporic subjective space. Whilst the previous stages of the project
allowed the researchers to anticipate the range of salient identities and
the potential relevance of a glocalised media environment this stage of
the project sought to generate a range of qualitative data that would
illuminate the lived relevance of media in relation to individuals
reproduction of subjective identities. Two methods were employed: a
questionnaire to generate a common base line of information across
the research sample, and focus groups to generate a more richly
textured body of data revealing the articulation of identities and related
media use. Whilst the questionnaire data was amenable to numerical
manipulation, it was nevertheless also essentially qualitative data, in as
much as the procedures of respondent selection and sample size would
not allow those questionnaires in any way to be regarded as adequate
representative samples.
The research team employed focus groups to generate qualitative
data which would illuminate our understanding of the construction of
identities, including the salience of Islam in this process, the use of media
and the interaction of the two. A common schedule was developed by
the two teams to guide the management of the focus groups. The
focus groups were recruited in relation to a sampling frame which
employed gender and age as key variables. However, the logistics of

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constructing such groups within the two populations has not made it
possible to adhere strictly to this framework. Both teams sought to
utilise existing groupings which offered a distinct profile in terms of
membership, and which would ensure a reflection of the diversity of
opinion within each community.
While many in the Iranian community warmly welcomed the idea
of this research, it proved very difficult to find appropriate times and
places in which people were prepared to participate in focus group
discussions. At language schools parents had little time and in community
gatherings members felt that they met so rarely that they could not
afford to give up even part of a session to participate in research.
People were suspicious about the purpose of the research and who
was funding it, and worried about controls and sanctions both from
United Kingdom authorities and from the Islamic Republic. Thus
considerable time was spent in reassuring people that participation was
anonymous and that the researchers purposes were academic in
nature. All of these factors meant that the diversity and clarity of
boundaries built into the purposive sampling frame for the recruitment
of focus groups could not be fully operationalised in the field. What
was methodologically clinical and purposive became in reality rather
more opportunistic and pragmatic.
In the case of the Bradford population, its much longer period of
existence, in conjunction with the denser localised areas of residence,
provided the basis for a rich diversity of potential settings to recruit focus
groups. As with the Iranian community, the logistics of using schools,
community centres, job clubs and community organisations required the
research team to be flexible in the face of the time schedule determined
by the setting. Middle class respondents proved the most difficult to
identify and recruit. This was partially a function of the class profile of the
population and partially a consequence of the groups' limited availability
due to their full work and social agendas. In contrast with the Iranian
population, a difficulty encountered in Bradford arose from the fact that
the Pakistani population perceived itself as over-researched. This meant
that there was some resistance from gate-keepers in specific settings to
agreeing to facilitate our entry. Considerable effort went into setting up
the focus groups, not just by team members, but by those facilitating the
groups; even so, some groups did not materialise when promised, and
others were a long time in being confirmed.
However, once the initial difficulties of access were overcome, it was
a positive experience running the focus groups. Overall participants
response was positive and the majority opened up quite quickly and
were quite voluble. Generally women of all ages and class backgrounds

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91

were the most responsive. Following initial piloting, the Bradford team
recruited a young Pakistani woman to run the focus groups with
female participants. Not all groups ran entirely smoothly. On some
occasions the participants become so exercised in discussing a topic
that managing the group was quite arduous.
In order to generate a complementary set of data, a questionnaire
was developed which aimed to tap individuals' use of the media, and
their construction of personal identities. Through piloting, the very
different nature of the two populations, already revealed in the earlier
stages of the research, became critical in shaping a divergent strategy
in utilising the questionnaire within each. Given the high level of
education and literacy within the Iranian community, a self-completion
questionnaire was eminently feasible. However, the very different class,
educational and literacy profile characterising the Pakistani population
rendered this an inappropriate strategy in Bradford. It was decided that
given the likely success of recruiting focus groups in Bradford the
questionnaire data should be derived from the focus group participants.
This had two advantages. In relation to the earlier issue of literacy, the
focus groups provided a context in which, where necessary, respondents
could be assisted in completing the questionnaire. Additionally, this
strategy allowed the focus group data and the questionnaire data to be
cross-referenced since they were derived from the same population.
The data generated in this stage of the project revealed a complex
interrelation of ethnic identity and the salience and significance of
religious affiliation; and very strong evidence of gender and generation
as major variables operating through each of the two populations. The
analysis of the data has underlined the very different history and
demography of the two populations and accords with the current
theoretical concerns to disaggregate the immigrant experience into a
richer and more sensitively nuanced conceptualisation of diasporic
populations living within the contemporary global context (HESSE,
1993; EADE, 1997).
Given this very diversity of experience and identity within our
research populations, we would have to recognise the limitations of what
this project has been able to achieve in relation to this objective. With the
resources available, the research methodology has amply illuminated the
complexity of identity construction and the relevance of media within
two very different United Kingdom minority ethnic communities. The
very extensive nature of these differences has promoted confidence in
the adequacy of the theoretical framework underpinning this project to
provide a robust common conceptual repertoire. And yet at the same
time the richness of the theoretical and descriptive analysis resulting

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from this data should not be allowed to obscure the fact that this research
has provided an essentially broad-brush picture. This is in itself important
in challenging naive debates around the relevance of Islam within
minority ethnic communities and complementary simplistic accounts of
the immigrant communities' location within Britain. This research
has shown the diversity within minority ethnic communities, and the
global-local dynamics operating within and across this diversity. The
account of individual and community identity construction and media
use offered by this research has revealed the complex interface of
mediascape (APPADURAI, 1990 and 1996[?]) with socioscape (ALBROW,
1997) in a multi-layered topography.
In order to complement the socio-cultural and political analysis
inherent in the previous objectives, the research project sought also to
recognise the political-economic substratum of the research populations
media environment. A political economy approach to the media
constitutes a well-established and important level of analysis within
communication research (GARNHAM, 1990; HERMAN/McCHESNEY,
1997). In the context of this project this helps to expose the economic
determinants of the infrastructural dimension of ethnicity (WALLMAN,
1986). Within the resources of this project, this could always only be an
illustrative exposition employing heuristic exemplars, rather than an
extensive and inclusive survey of all the relevant media. Consequently,
from the overall media environment operating in each research site, case
study exemplars were selected.
However, here again the very different circumstances of the two
target populations impacted upon the ways in which this objective
could be addressed. The very rich media environment of the Pakistani
population allowed for a deliberate choice of media to target from
within a wide range of possible instances. For the Iranian population,
this was a much more limited and volatile media environment.
2. Mapping ethnicity: the space and time of community
In both the research sites an essential foundational task for the project
was the descriptive mapping of both the target populations in relation to
their demography and history. It was not assumed that this account would
be synonymous with the mapping of the current subjective identities of
community (HUSBAND, 1996) which might be extant within these
populations. This was the focus of the subsequent stage of the research.
In Bradford, there were extensive demographic data available on
the Pakistani population. Bradford and District Metropolitan Council

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93

has a very active research and planning group, and there is consequently
a body of statistical data which allows for a tracking of the historical
development of the Pakistani population, and which has also been
employed to develop sophisticated projections of its future demography.
Through accessing this data it has been possible to derive a detailed
descriptive account of the demography of the Pakistani population in
Bradford. Additionally, there is a long history of academic research on
this population (SAIFULLAH-KHAN, 1976; SAMAD, 1992). Consequently
a detailed review of this literature provided an informed descriptive
account of the history and social organisation of this population.
Bradford Metropolitan District is a major conurbation in the north
of England, and unlike other major cities its population is growing.
Following initial migration and settlement in the 1960s Bradford has
over the last three decades established a significant Pakistani population.
In 1981 the Pakistani population numbered 34,116 persons, in 1991,
38,059 persons; and it is estimated that in the year 2011 this
population will number 104,000 persons, or approximately a quarter,
or more, of the citys total population. Currently the Pakistani population
makes up over 10 % of the Bradford population; and 50 % of the
Pakistani population are under 18. Spatially the Pakistani population is
heavily concentrated in a number of inner-city wards, with two wards
having over 50 % of their population of Pakistani background, and one
being over 70 % Pakistani. This spatial concentration allows for the
localised presence of an important infrastructure of community resources
in terms of shops, social organisation and mosques. Significantly kinship
and religious networks are important organising principles within the
Pakistani population, providing a basis for both institutional mobilisation
and friendship networks. The Pakistani population is predominantly
working class with high levels of unemployment, particularly among the
young males, and many live in areas characterised by the local
authorities as areas of high social stress. Through events like the
Honeyford Affair, the Rushdie Affair and the Gulf War, this is a
population that has felt itself to be subject to harsh external scrutiny,
and hostile stereotyping, by agencies and spokespersons for the
majority white population; if not an embattled community, then at
least a self-conscious collectivity.
The majority of Pakistans immigrants to Bradford came from
Mirpur and were deeply conservative people from one of the more
underdeveloped areas of rural Pakistan. The mosques established in the
first phase of migration and settlement were frequented irrespective of
regional, caste and sectarian origins. But with family reunification a fission
process occurred with segmentation taking place along regional, sectarian

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and caste lines. This resulted in the proliferation of mosques, Islamic


schools and religio-political organisations. Religion is a significant aspect of
social organisation within the Pakistan community. The many divisions
within Islam are also echoed in Bradford, with Shiahs, a range of Sunni
groups including the Barelvi, Deoband, Jamat-i-Islami and Tabligh-i-Jamat,
and Sufi orders, all active in the city. These religious internal boundaries
are also quite often overlaid with linguistic and regional identities; so that,
for example, a Barelvi mosque may have its management committee and
Imam from a particular region and speak a particular language or dialect
(SAMAD, 1998). As a counter to this fragmentation, and with the active
encouragement of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, the Bradford
Council of Mosques was formed as an umbrella institutional presence in
the city (SAMAD, 1992; REX/SAMAD, 1996). However, to assume that the
Council of Mosques represented all Muslim opinion in Bradford would be
incorrect. A number of more militant organisations, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir,
have also been active in the city.
It is important to note that as an established and demographically
concentrated, minority ethnic population within Bradford, members of
this Pakistani community are all British citizens. Thus both in legal
terms, and in relation to their perception of an entitlement to equality
of treatment, they must be seen as enjoying full citizenship status, as
well as limited polyethnic rights (KYMLICKA, 1995) founded in British
race relations legislation (see MacEWEN, 1994). This is clearly a
different political environment to that enjoyed by minority ethnic
communities in other multi-ethnic states (WRENCH/SOLOMOS, 1993;
HECKMAN/BOSSWICK, 1995). However, it is the gap between their
experience of their formal and substantive citizenship rights (BRUBAKER,
1989) which informs their understanding of their location in British
society. Economic disadvantage, racial discrimination and a strong
sense of having been subject to national scrutiny and abuse as the
quintessential Muslim presence in Britain have all impacted upon the
life chances and experience of members of this population and may be
seen as the background to extensive rioting which took place in the
inner city in 1995 (BRADFORD COMMISSION REPORT, 1996).
3. Religiosity and identity
With this background it is not surprising to find that, in contrast to
the Iranian population in London, the majority of Pakistani respondents
to the questionnaire expressed a distinct religious affiliation. This
religious identification, however, has strong generational and gender-

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95

linked variations. For example, of those men claiming that they were
very strongly religious only 33 % were under 25 years of age, whereas
of those claiming that they were weakly religious 59 % were under 25.
And the comparable figure for women was that of those claiming they
were very religious only 16 % were under 25, whereas of those
claiming they were weakly religious over 70 % were under 25.
However, a degree of caution is required in considering these data for,
as the descriptive analysis shows, this is a religiously active community;
and thus even those who declare themselves only weakly religious and
do not maintain all the required forms of devout practice may be
regarded as much more religious than the norm by the majority ethnic
population. And of course truly devout Muslims may be too modest to
claim that they are very religious. Despite these comments it remains
the case that the data suggest religiosity follows an age profile, with
the older members of the community being more religious than their
younger counterparts. For the older members of the community their
understanding of Islam is located within an oral tradition which is
intimately linked to life-cycle rituals. This form of Islam is steeped in
rural traditions and inevitably is influenced by non-Islamic practices,
which have a meaning and context within the Pakistan they left behind
rather than contemporary Pakistan. The patriarchal and authoritarian
tendencies within this perspective can have a powerful synergy with
Northern English cultural mores. The patriarchal and authoritarian values
present within the conservative Islam reproduced in Bradford have
much in common with the northern machismo of working class inner
city Yorkshire (ALI, 1992). A common agenda regarding the role and
control of women may particularly facilitate a reproduction of a
traditional cultural version of Islam among the younger men, which
does not enjoy a similar symbolic synthesis for the younger women
growing up in the context of a strong feminist agenda within British
youth culture.
The younger generation are being partially enculturated within this
oral tradition, while at the same time their understanding of Islam is
partially textual and derived from English language sources. Thus
younger respondents gravitate towards a more ecumenical Islam which
glosses over the differences which have been so divisive among the
older generation. Additionally the focus group data indicates that among
the young women, born or brought up in Britain, their understanding
of Islam differs both from the older generations and from their male
peers. While the young men are tending to reproduce a patriarchal
Islamic ethos, with a strong melding of Northern male machismo, the
young women are challenging this in a number of ways. Rather than

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

questioning Islam, they are challenging their communitys cultural


interpretation of Islam as non-Islamic. The qualitative findings show
that there are significant differences in the understanding of Islam
along gender and generational lines.
The role of religiosity in the lives of the Pakistani population takes
on new meaning when the data revealing the respondents self
declared identifications is examined. When asked which of a range of
labels they would personally identify with, employing Pakistani as a
label was more associated with the older generation. However, the use
of Muslim as an identifier was much more prevalent in the young
generation; both male and female. Thus for example, of those males
happy to describe themselves as Pakistani 29 % were under 25,
whereas of those happy to call themselves Muslim 89 % were under
25 years of age. The comparable data for females showed that of
those happy to describe themselves as Pakistani 11 % were under
25, and of those happy to call themselves Muslim 53 % were under
25 years of age.
These findings appear to contradict earlier evidence where
religiosity was positively correlated with age. The focus group data
suggests that subscribing to a Muslim identification is not necessarily
synonymous with religiosity but relates to a transformation of ethnic
identity within the context of British society. For the older generation
clan and tribe loyalties remain very real, and Islam is an inherent
framework which is subsumed in a Pakistani identity that is itself
reinforced through linguistic and clan identities. The younger
generation lack the immediacy of these older affiliations and, perhaps
finding that it is their religious identity rather than national/ethnic
affiliation which most troubles the majority population, see Muslim
as an identity that has social and political credibility. As we have seen,
Islam is also a vehicle through which they are negotiating their
generational and gender identities within the Pakistani community. The
qualitative data suggests that for the young men in this community,
outperformed by their sisters in the educational system and
marginalised in the labour market, an assertion of Muslim identity may
allow for a reassertion of a male ascendancy reproduced within the
communitys conservative expression of Islam, and for an identification
with powerful images of militant Islam elsewhere in the world. For
many young women, on the contrary, self-identification as Muslims allows
them to invoke a devout Islamic identity which exposes the Pakistani
cultural accretions illegitimately used to limit their freedoms. Rather
than challenging Islam they are asserting a textual knowledge of it and
are consequently critiquing their communitys interpretation of Islam as

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97

non-Islamic. From this perspective they are also able to challenge the
double standards and hypocrisy of their menfolk. Thus the qualitative
data indicate significant differences in the understanding of Islam and
its incorporation into a Muslim identity along gender and generational
lines. The young men and women are engaged in a creative hermeneutic
in their use of Islam in order to negotiate their gendered and generational
space.
4. Media and identity
The very rich media environment which bathes the Pakistani
population allows for very considerable audience fragmentation. Minority
ethnic communities in Britain are well served by the press and the
Pakistani community is no exception. As well as daily newspapers such as
Jang and Asian Age there is a wide variety of weekly papers including the
Asian Times, East and Eastern Eye. And at the local level the mainstream
Telegraph and Argus and Yorkshire Post are complemented by Ravi,
Awaz and Pegham. In terms of radio, as well as the local BBC and
commercial radio stations which make modest gestures toward
minority ethnic audiences, there is also Sunrise Radio which specifically
targets South Asian audiences, and a pirate station Asian Air which
operates without the statutory inhibitions of the licensed radio stations.
Bollywood Hindi films and Urdu dramas are easily available to rent from
the plethora of small video rental shops scattered through the denser
areas of Pakistani residence. And the local cable television operator
offers Asia Net and Zee TV. Thus the Pakistani community's environment
has a rich infrastructure of media that offer entertainment and
information aimed to address a range of appetites defined by generation,
gender, political affiliation and linguistic competence within the Pakistani
population.
Linguistic barriers which lock some of the older generation into
Asian language media such as video, television and minority language
press, apply equally to younger members of the community who may
not be literate in the community language and are more comfortable in
spoken English. This linguistic filter seems a major determinant of the
revealed pattern of media use. Within the minority press, for example,
the readership of Jang, predominantly in Urdu, is skewed toward the
older generation, while the readership of the English language Eastern
Eye is much younger. Of course there is more than a linguistic variable
operating here, as Jang appeals more to those who are concerned with
current events in the Indian sub-continent, whereas Eastern Eye has an

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CULTURAL IDENTITIES AND ETHNIC MINORITIES IN EUROPE

appeal for those whose horizons are more determined by Britain and
Europe. Indeed, interviews with the editorial staff of the South Asian
press showed that this was a clear basis of editorial policy, Jang
deliberately focusing on Pakistan whereas Eastern Eye is deliberately
inclusively Asian and focuses much more upon British and European
news. The size and concentrated territorial location of the South Asian
populations in Britain has made them viable commercial markets for
media targeted at specific minority ethnic audiences; this is certainly
true of the Pakistani population in Bradford. To a significant extent the
British South Asian population constitute an extra-territorial location
wherein the indigenous politics of the Indian subcontinent flourish
among long established diasporic communities. Thus in terms of the
press this defines both audiences and potential news sources. Much of
the news in Jang, for example, is taken directly from its Karachi parent
edition. Modern technology and media conglomerates' ability to crosssubsidise their diverse activities are critical to the diversity of media
available to the Pakistani community in Bradford.
Age and gender were clearly significant in shaping patterns of
media use and the findings indicated that consumption of mainstream
media was widespread throughout the sample. As would be expected
from the above, younger people consumed more mainstream media,
broadcast and print, than older generations. For the older generation
religious sensibilities were a potential determinant of their media use.
The case studies revealed the very strong production economies which
underpinned the operation of the print media, with, in some cases,
international financial and technical linkages being fundamental to the
viability of their operation.
5. Conclusion
The comparative analysis of the data reveals the complex interaction
of gender and generation in shaping the expression of ethnic
consciousness. The socio-economic context within which the young
Pakistani respondents are negotiating their identity is reflected in their
articulation of age and gender with Islam and community mores. These
data depict a very dynamic situation in which the media provides
personally relevant options within mediascapes that reflect different
political, geographical and cultural perspectives. The period of settlement
and demographic profile of the Pakistani population allow for a rich
diversity of media, themselves part of a transnational commercial
infrastructure in which conglomerates can cross-subsidise media, and

NEGOTIATING IDENTITIES IN A DIASPORIC CONTEXT: THE PAKISTANI...

99

create considerable economies of scale through the multiple exploitation


of news and entertainment. This minority media activity is generating a
fast-changing and increasingly sophisticated media environment. The
demography of the Pakistani community has built into it a necessary
logic of change as linguistic competence in the community language
changes over time, and as new cohorts of young people negotiate their
own affiliation to Pakistani, Kashmiri and British political and cultural
agendas. The current identity politics of minority ethnic community
boundary construction and territorial concentration seem likely to
ensure a vital minority ethnic media into the foreseeable future.
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